Recently, recordings from a “Bubba the Love Sponge” (think Hulk Hogan) interview with Fox host Tucker Carlson, circa 2006-2011, resurfaced. It contains numerous slurs and epithets, ranging from homophobic to misogynistic; cavalier toward the sexual assault of children, and crass in stereotyping the then-recently conquered country of Iraq.
On women, Tucker said: “You just need to be quiet and do what you’re told.”
On Iraq: “A crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate monkeys. That’s why it was worth invading.”
On his feelings toward Bubba Clem: “I like you … and I do mean that in a completely faggot way.”
On women, again: “C—s … pigs … whores.”
But honestly, is anyone surprised? All this is coming from the man who has said a host of outrageous and divisive things – perhaps in more “PC” language, sure – but hearing the actual words come out of his mouth doesn’t surprise me one bit. As a gay man, I’ve heard and been called a faggot a million times in many lights, and while it can seem offensive at times I honestly raised an eyebrow at the overt homoeroticism of it, and nothing else.
This is simply how Tucker’s mind operates when not in the confines of his variety hour show that bears his name on Fox News. While everything he said is protected free speech under the Constitution, the Constitution only guarantees that the government, both federal and state via the 14th Amendment, must respect your free speech. It is not a provision that extends to private individuals or companies. In this light, Fox should feel compelled to fire Carlson for expressing such bigoted views in such a crude way. Any corporation, especially one that employs public personas, should understand that many people may see the views of their employees as being representative of the views of the company. To allow someone to express views like this would cost anyone else their job, because no one wants to be associated with the antiquated brand of bigotry Carlson buys into. If MSNBC, who was his employer from 2005-2008 had heard him saying these things, they would have dropped the axe quicker than even Rachel Maddow could blink.
BUT … will they? Probably not. As much as the rest of America is moving forward, away from bigotry and toward a more inclusive and egalitarian viewpoint, Fox News is the biggest and loudest venue for the things Tucker Carlson says. It is his personal soapbox hour and it nets over three million viewers each week.
Additionally, Fox is incredibly inconsistent when it comes to handing out condemnations for its out-of-control talking heads. While they were quick to slap Jeanine Pirro on the wrist for her anti-Islamic remarks, it took six sexual harassment settlements totalling nearly $50 million with different women to oust Bill O’Reilly from their network, only for Fox to renew his multi-million dollar contract several months later.
The only thing that may translate into actual change is the fact that advertisers are abandoning him, demanding to Fox that their ads not be played during Carlson’s program. So far, Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals and the bedding company Sheex have pulled ads after the most recent outburst from Carlson. Previously, after Carlson said immigrants make this country “dirty,” TD Ameritrade, Just For Men, IHOP and 13 other companies pulled ads from his program. Several companies, including the manufacturer of Botox, have pulled their ads from Pirro’s segment as well. But, as strong as the language of money is, it should be noted that Fox doesn’t actually lose money from the symbolic pulling of ads; they just play them during different segments.
So until something happens to actually affect Fox’s bottom line, expect programming to continue as scheduled. Fact of the matter is that, for Fox, bigotry sells.