Fox News refutes claim that primetime star Tucker Carlson will take a vacation amid controversy

Carlson didn't correct Sean Hannity, who claimed his colleague delayed a vacation to defend himself against a "mob"

Published March 13, 2019 2:56PM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson (Getty/Rich Polk)
Tucker Carlson (Getty/Rich Polk)

Fox News refuted claims made by one of its own hosts that host Tucker Carlson will take a vacation amid the ongoing controversy surrounding newly resurfaced sexist, racist and homophobic remarks he made in the past about minority groups.

As he off from his namesake show "Tucker Carlson Tonight" and handed off the baton Tuesday to fellow Fox News host Sean Hannity, Hannity praised Carlson, adding that his colleague delayed a vacation to defend himself on air against the "mob" that Carlson claims has called a boycott of his advertisers and his firing

"I've got to give you a compliment," Hannity told Carlson Tuesday night. "So Tucker was going to be off this week. He was – he was going to be off this week. It becomes a busy news week, and he's not going to take the mob's crap. And he came into work to stand up to this, and I want the great viewers of this channel to know that."

Carlson then thanked Hannity, who he said has "helped him every bit of the way."

"I'm an expert in this. They've been trying to kill me for 23 years," Hannity said, an apparent referring to the so-called “mob.” "Anyway, always great to see you and have a great rest of vacation that you were supposed to have."

Carlson did not correct Hannity, after which time a Fox News spokesperson told the Washington Post that the conservative pundit was always scheduled to host his show this week and that Hannity had simply misspoken when he wished him a "great rest of vacation."

The confusion surrounding Carlson's "vacation" comes after Media Matters for America released audio clips and transcripts of the conservative TV host in which he can be heard dismissing the crimes of cult leader and convicted child sex offender Warren Jeffs. In other clips, Carlson described women as "extremely primitive” and suggested that illegal marriages between adults and underage girls were not as serious as forced child rape and that he would "love" a scenario involving young girls experimenting sexually.

Carlson also said he feels "sorry for unattractive women," called journalist Arianna Huffington a "pig" and labeled celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton as "the biggest white whores in America."Carlson's remarks were made during appearances on a Tampa-based radio program called "Bubba the Love Sponge" between 2006 and 2011.

Carlson's newly unearthed comments sparked immediate and intense backlash. Still, the Fox News host has refused to apologize. Instead, he argued that progressive organizations like Media Matters are hijacking free speech and demanding "total conformity" to political correctness.

"We've always apologized when we're wrong, and we will continue to do that," Carlson said earlier this week. "That's what decent people do – they apologize. But we will never bow to the mob."

As the Fox News host remained neither apologetic or remorseful, Media Matters published additional transcripts of the conservative TV host, in which he can be heard using racist and homophobic language to rail against African-Americans, gay people, immigrants, Iraqi people and the Obama family, while calling into the “shock jock” show for about an hour per week between 2006 and 2011.

Most recently, Media Matters published audio of Carlson making objectifying and degrading comments about a former Miss Teen USA contestant in a 2007 interview with "Bubba the Love Sponge."

"She's so dumb," Carlson said on the recording, referring to pageant contestant Caitlin Upton. "She's vulnerable. She's like a wounded gazelle separated from the herd." Carlson then suggested that the pageant's host, actor Mario Lopez, had sex with the contestant, who Carlson believed was underage at the time.

"Well she was 17," the radio show's host said. "Couldn't that be a problem legally if Mario f--ked it?"

"No. No. Ae you kidding? He's like James Brown," Carlson responded, referring to the musician who was arrested for domestic violence. "The normal laws for that kind of thing don't apply to him. He gets a pass."

At one point in the audio clip, Tucker claims the teen would "probably be a good wife.” He added, “Don't you think? I mean, if you had a wife that dumb. Would it be good or bad?"

Upton was Miss Carolina Teen USA that year. She was widely mocked online for an answer she gave during the pageant. Upton told New York Magazine in 2015 that she suffered for years following that moment, revealing the humiliation nearly led her to suicide. “I was very, very depressed," she said.

This audio is the latest in a series of damning revelations that began Sunday, when Media Matters first published clips of Carlson degrading women and defending statutory rape in old radio interviews. The media watchdog has since released more offensive audio, but Carlson refuses to apologize or condemn his previous remarks. On Monday, the Fox News host said his network supports him.

"Fox News is behind us, as they have been since the very first day," Carlson said. "Toughness is a rare quality in a TV network, and we're grateful for that."

By Shira Tarlo

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