A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
The highest-rated host on the highest-rated cable news channel in the country again attempted to smear a double amputee US Army veteran as an anti-American fanatic on Tuesday. In a reprehensible monologue, Tucker Carlson claimed from his Fox News perch that Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth actually "despise[s]" America. Carlson shamelessly called Duckworth a "coward," a "fraud," and a "callous hack," among other things.
For those not familiar with Duckworth, here's a brief history of her service: She was awarded the Purple Heart after she lost her legs in 2004 when an RPG hit the helicopter she was co-piloting during the Iraq War. She retired from the Illinois Army National Guard as a lieutenant colonel and went on to serve as the assistant secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department in the Obama administration. When she was elected to the US Senate in 2016, she became the first female double-amputee to serve in the chamber.
That's the person Carlson — who never served in the armed forces himself — deemed a "coward" on his program Tuesday night. That's who he tried to convince viewers supposedly holds enormous disdain for the country. As Duckworth tweeted Monday night in response to Carlson's initial attacks, "Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?"
It's important to remember that these cruel attacks from Carlson are all because Duckworth said during a CNN appearance that there should be a "national dialogue" on the removal of monuments to the founding fathers, such as George Washington, who owned slaves. That is what prompted Carlson's rage.
Rather ironically, Carlson himself appears in favor of having that dialogue. In fact, he wanted to have it with Duckworth on his program. Carlson said he invited Duckworth on his show Tuesday night to have a discussion on the removal of monuments, but that her office asked that he apologize for questioning the senator's patriotism before considering the invitation.
And who could blame Duckworth's office for making such a request? Carlson's attacks on the US senator, his literal questioning of her patriotism, should be considered far out of bounds by most reasonable standards of public decency. It's certainly fair to passionately disagree with Duckworth's political positions. But smearing her as someone who hates the country she sacrificed so much for? That crosses a very clear line.
No comment from Fox
I reached out to a Fox News spokesperson to see if the network was okay with its highest-rated primetime host maligning the reputation of Duckworth. Offering a political opinion is one thing; smearing a US senator who lost two legs for her country as someone who hates America is something else entirely. So does Fox News approve of this rhetoric? The spokesperson did not respond...
>> Reminder: Carlson's program is being propped up by My Pillow. As Stelter pointed out, Mike Lindell's firm is advertising on Carlson's show "nearly 10x more than the next-largest brand by spend," according to iSpot.tv. Major advertisers have all but abandoned his program over the years...