Good Riddance, Tucker

It had been so long since there had been any good news that it came as quite a shock: Fox News had fired Tucker Carlson.

There is a limit to what one might reasonably expect from the firing of a single demagogue. The Former Guy was evicted from the Oval Office more than 27 months ago. Bill O’Reilly, Carlson’s own predecessor, has been gone for six years. Yet here we are, still on the brink of a dozen different catastrophes.

But what the hell—it’s a start. Let us be grateful for what we’ve been given. Maybe, if we’re lucky, he’ll fade forever from public view. Surely that wouldn’t hurt.

In anticipation of that blessed possibility, let’s cross our fingers and celebrate by digging into this weirdo’s background. Perhaps, if we go  deep enough, we may even find in ourselves a smidgen of empathy for this creep.

A photograph of Carlson at the age of six or seven shows him wearing the uniform of The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Aww…that’s so sweet. Or is it? If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t really know who the villain is until the credits roll.

The Buckley school has an uplifting motto: “Dare To Be True.” Apparently it doesn’t always stick.

Buckley School Board member Adam J. Bass, for example, lied when he initially denied hiring infamous college admissions consultant Rick Singer.

The truth is, Bass used Singer’s services to get his daughter—billed as an “African-American tennis whiz, ranked in the Top 10 in California”—into Tulane. Actually, she’s white, and doesn’t even play tennis.

An online list of notable Buckley alumni includes Paris Hilton, Christian Brando, and Kim Kardashian. Carlson’s name, though, does not appear. Perhaps Buckley threw him out.

If so, it might have been the first time, but it wasn’t to be the last. According to a 2018-ish profile in the Swiss weekly, Die Weltwoche, “As a teenager, [Carlson] had a brief stint at a Swiss elite college at Lac Leman. ‘I got kicked out,’ he sheepishly confesses but refuses to reveal why.”

In the fall of 1984, Carlson would have been 15. According to a profile in Business Insider, he was then attending the St. George School, just east of Newport, Rhode Island. So, not elitist at all.

One Sunday Richard Wayner, a Black student from the Bronx, while delivering an address during the mandatory chapel service, spoke about another Bronx resident, Eleanor Bumpurs. Disabled by arthritis and mental illness, Bumpers had recently been killed by two shotgun blasts during an attempted eviction.

“[Wayner] concluded with the words: ‘Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?’

“Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds.

“It was Tucker Carlson.”

Hmmm… that doesn’t do much to increase our empathy. Who raised this wretch?

Before he was shucked off to a succession of boarding schools, Tucker was brought up by his dear old dad, Richard “Dick” Carlson. In a self-published hagiography titled, 10 Characters with Character: Politics With Principle, Michael J. Kerrigan tells his story.

“Dick was an orphan,” Kerrigan writes. His mother, 16, “a pretty blonde girl from a small town near Boston,” dropped him off at the Home For Little Wanderers “in the snowy winter of 1941, when Dick was six weeks old.”

From this inauspicious beginning, Dick went on to thrive. “Name a job and Dick Carlson has mastered it… magazine writer, newspaper columnist and reporter… private detective… anchorman… organized crime expert… merchant seaman… counter-terrorism expert.”

Kerrigan doesn’t bring it up, but Carlson the magazine writer put Look out of business. He and co-writer Carl Brisson wrote a piece falsely linking San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto to organized crime.

Actual malice is a strict legal term that’s hard to prove in court. Alioto succeeded, though, eight years later. Carlson was in the clear due to technicalities, but the legal expenses ruined the magazine.

As Look was still clinging to the ropes, Dick was playing journalist on TV. In 1976, as professional tennis player Renée Richards was trying to compete in the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Dick Carlson outed her as transsexual.

Carlson’s outing of Richards was anything but a one-time faux pas. At about the same time he was outing Richards, he conducted a televised crusade against another transexual woman named Elizabeth “Liz” Carmichael. A con artist, as well, Liz was featured in the 2021 HBO mini-series “The Lady and the Dale.”

“[Dick] Carlson,” Nick Schager wrote in a Daily Beast review of the series, “became fixated on Liz, doing 20+ pieces on her during which he not only uncovered her business’ shadiness, but went out of his way to condescendingly refer to her with male pronouns, and to suggest that she was a guy pretending to be the opposite gender in order to disguise her fugitive identity and to garner publicity. Even today, Carlson seems unrepentant, going so far as to say that if Liz’s behavior is normal, then so too is Jeffrey Dahmer’s.”

Zackary Drucker, the director and executive producer of “The Lady and the Dale,” and a trans woman herself, told Out Magazine:

“These battles with trans women weren’t just fleeting moments in [Dick] Carlson’s life. In the years he covered Carmichael, he grew afraid of her, and even started carrying a gun because he was afraid she’d try to kill him.

“Liz Carmichael is the trans bogeyman of Tucker Carlson’s childhood,” Drucker told Out. “And just to extrapolate a little bit, Tucker Carlson thinks that his father is heroic. And his heroic father was only afraid of one person, who happened to be trans.”

Alas, after dredging through his past, we can find no reason—even after finding this likely Rosebud—to cut Tucker Carlson any slack. So, may the nation’s foremost advocate of testicle tanning retreat forever to his lair in Bryant Pond, Maine—and good luck to the poison ivy.

Leave a Comment