Media

Tucker Carlson brushes off 20,000-word NY Times story dubbing him ‘American Nationalist’

Fox News host Tucker Carlson says he has not read and does not plan to read the wide-ranging examination of his career arc, editorial strategy and prominence at the network published by The New York Times over the weekend.

In a series published online and on the front page of the Times on Sunday with the tag “American Nationalist,” correspondent Nicholas Confessore wrote more than 15,000 words on Carlson, laying out how the pundit rose from neoconservative magazine writer to Fox’s top host and the right’s de facto thought leader.

The Times project detailed the ways in which Carlson’s prime-time show and segments about immigration, race relations and the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in massive ratings boosts at Fox, but also widespread criticism from media watchdogs and problems with advertisers.

The Times report also suggests Carlson is an avid consumer of Fox’s “minute-by-minute” ratings data, often using those analytics to inform his decisions about what to cover and how.

On Sunday, Carlson told Axios he has not read any of the Times piece and does not plan to. He also denied its reporting relative to his obsession over ratings.

“I’ve never read the ratings a single day in my life. I don’t even know how. Ask anyone at Fox,” Carlson told Axios. “Most of the big positions I’ve taken in the past five years — against the neocons, the vax and the war [in Ukraine] — have been very unpopular with our audience at first.”

Earlier on Sunday, Carlson posted a picture of himself on Twitter holding the front page of Sunday’s Times with a smile.

Fox News also defended its programming in a statement to The Hill.

“Fox News Media has grown through strategic innovation, redirecting investments in journalism to encompass more than 50 percent of the budget while expanding our footprint beyond one legacy linear network to eight thriving platforms,” the network said.

“As a result, we’ve doubled our audience, achieved unrivaled results, and have become the destination that more Democrats and independents choose for their news coverage, while our competitors have lost dramatic levels of viewership.”

The Times piece also contains several anecdotes painting Carlson as a powerful figure internally at Fox, answering directly to the company’s ownership and berating lower-level employees who have spoken out publicly against him and the content on his show.

Fox declined to comment on those allegations, citing confidentiality requirements pertaining to human resources matters, the Times reported.

Confessore notes in his piece that he is a contributor to MSNBC. In a statement, Justin Wells, Carlson’s senior executive producer, said the host’s programming “embraces diversity of thought and presents various points of view in an industry where contrarian thought and the search for truth are often ignored.”

Carlson’s show airs weeknights and last week he alluded to the forthcoming Times opus, calling Times journalists “obedient little establishment defenders,” who “will say anything to please their bosses, they’re suck-ups, brown-nosers, lickspittles, not people you’d want to have dinner with.”

“If you don’t obey them, they denounce you as a racist,” Carlson said. “Why do they do this? They do it because it works. But here’s the thing. It can only work if you play along with it. And we don’t plan to.”

Tags Fox News New York Times Nicholas Confessore Tucker Carlson Tucker Carlson

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