Fox News's Tucker Carlson openly threatened New York Times reporters on air in July, unleashing a torrent of his apparent fans torment and harass them over a lie. A new 911 phone call transcript, first published by the Washington Post on Monday, revealed more details about the consequences of the host's actions.
Carlson claimed that reporters for the Times were working on a story that would identify the location of his family's home. However, the Times denied that it planned to reveal the location, and the story that was in the works has yet to be published.
But it seems that didn't matter to Carlson. He openly threatened the reporters working on the story.
"So how would Murray Carpenter and his photographer, Tristan Spinski, feel if we told you where they live?" he said on air. "If we put pictures of their homes on the air?"
He didn't identify their homes — but, as he must have known, he didn't need to. Online sleuths were likely to find their addresses in revenge for a wrong against Carlson that never even took place.
And it appears that's exactly what happened. Erik Wemple of the Post reported that the two freelancers faced a wave of threats over various media.
And on Monday, Wemple shared a 911 transcript related to the incident. He explained:
The 911 transcript adds contour to the story, as it depicts the victims of Carlson's dangerous speculation trying to make sense of a sudden spurt of hostility at their doorstep on an otherwise quiet summer night. The call arrived at the Lincoln County facility at 9:57 p.m., just about an hour after Carlson's blast. "It's been some loud banging noise downstairs and some threats coming to the house recently just in the past hour," says Spinski's brother-in-law on the call transcript, which you can read in full here. "I mean there's the call and the voicemail saying we know where you live, beware and things of that nature."
After the dispatcher asks about the threats, Spinski's brother-in-law responds, "Yeah just recently, it's my brother-in-law is a journalist and a news source posted his name on uh Tucker Carlson show and his address and things of that nature so he has um been getting threats all night long." Spinski himself jumps in on the call with the dispatcher, explaining, "There is definitely people (muffled voices) on our property," he tells the dispatcher (parentheses in original transcript). "Yeah there was a definite, we can feel our house when someone is trying to get into it downstairs. It was significant," Spinski says.
The occupants of the house — Spinski, his wife and his brother-in-law — were "locked" in an upstairs room during the ordeal, Spinski tells the dispatcher. "I am not going to poke my head out you know," he says.
It's a frightening episode. And it's entirely predictable that something like this would happen, especially as Carlson has been cultivating a devoted and paranoid fanbase that perceives enemies all around them.
In fact, what happened to Spinski is exactly what Carlson was supposedly outraged could happen to him — that a media report could spark real-world danger toward him and his family. Except in Carlson's case, this threat was imaginary and never came to pass. The Times didn't, intentionally or otherwise, spur harassment toward someone's family. The only one guilty of that in this case is Carlson himself.