Tucker Carlson, our nation’s oldest Young Republican, has risen to the top of the Fox News food chain by combining conspiracy-mongering, culture war grievance, and staggering smugness. But, in his quest to hold onto relevancy with Donald Trump now out of the White House, Carlson has seemingly managed to make his act even more noxious in recent weeks, such going to bat for the QAnon cult. And his most recent offense? A revolting, misogynistic rant mocking women service members and accusing Joe Biden of feminizing the United States military while China’s becomes “more masculine.”
Carlson, whose closest brush with combat service was hosting a show called “Crossfire,” was immediately and roundly rebuked for his Tuesday remarks, including by senior Pentagon leaders. “What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host, or the Chinese military,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday. But perhaps the biggest smackdown came from Senator Tammy Duckworth, the Illinois Democrat and war hero, who put the self-satisfied Fox News host in his place. “F*ck Tucker Carlson,” Duckworth tweeted Thursday morning, along with a gif of the commentator in an appearance on Dancing With the Stars in 2006. “While he was practicing his two-step, America’s female warriors were hunting down Al Qaeda and proving the strength of America’s women.”
Added Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who lost both her legs in combat in 2004: “Happy belated International Women’s Day to everyone but Tucker, who even I can dance better than.”
Women in the military has been a long-running hobby horse for Carlson, who similarly attacked Barack Obama over the gender-composition of America’s armed forces. But while his unearned opinions found a receptive audience in Trump, who solicited his counsel on foreign policy and other matters, Biden, of course, is treating Carlson’s rants and raves with all the respect they deserve, which is to say none at all. The diminished influence in Washington’s power center seems to be weighing on Carlson, who whined on his program Thursday that Lloyd Austin’s Pentagon had “declared war on a domestic news operation.” The Defense Department of course did nothing of the sort—correctly criticizing his remarks as “divisive” and offensive and dismissing his bad faith attacks is not the same as treating his network like a “hostile foreign power”—and if he’s going to get bent out of shape about being hit with a “public relations offensive,” perhaps he’s not the guy to be mocking Duckworth and other women servicemembers who have faced actual combat offensives.
“Tucker never learns,” Duckworth wrote in a follow-up tweet Thursday night. “This wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last time he goes after women who sacrifice in uniform so he doesn’t have to. But no matter how many times he insults our Armed Forces, I won’t be silent.”
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