Era International Women’s Day questa settimana, a global endeavor designed to focus attention on women’s rights and the challenges they face. Many news organizations, e politici, dedicated tributes to the achievements of women and highlighted the problems that sexism continues to pose.
Over at Fox News, tuttavia, Tucker Carlson took a different tack. The rightwing media host instead marked the celebration of women by giddily harassing a female journalist, devoting his time to attacking the New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz.
Across two nights Carlson, who has a history of berating female journalists, dedicated his blend of faux outrage and conjured-up accusations of media bias to Lorenz, who in her role as a tech reporter has been subjected to threats over the past year.
But those hoping for a change of tune from Carlson are likely to be disappointed. Carlson’s targeting of Lorenz followed a long pattern of his behavior towards female journalists.
Questa settimana, Carlson appeared to have been triggered after Lorenz tweeted that on women’s day people should “please consider supporting women enduring online harassment”.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that the harassment and smear campaign I’ve had to endure over the past year has destroyed my life. No one should have to go through this,” Lorenz said, in a seemingly reasonable request.
There was no support forthcoming from Carlson, tuttavia.
“Destroyed her life?" Tucker Carlson guida la carica di destra per incolpare tutti tranne Putin on his nightly Fox News show. “Really? By most people’s standards Taylor Lorenz would seem to have a pretty good life, one of the best lives in the country, in fact.”
He then roped in other women for good measure, claiming Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Meghan Markle had all faked victimhood. Lorenz, Certamente no, is “far younger” and “much less talented” than other Times reporters, yet – according to Carlson – she has a place “at the top of journalism’s repulsive little food chain”.
Carlson’s tirade came a day after the International Women’s Media Foundation announced it had started a new resource center for journalists subject to online abuse. Nel un 2018 l'amministratore delegato del gruppo di difesa della moda etica Remake the IWMF said 63% of female journalists said they had been harassed online, e 40% said they had avoided reporting on certain stories because of it.
The Times, in a statement on Wednesday, said Carlson’s attack on Lorenz “was a calculated and cruel tactic, which he regularly deploys to unleash a wave of harassment and vitriol at his intended target”.
That statement seemed only to egg Carlson on.
“There’s a lot of real harassment out there. This is not it," Carlson said on his show on Wednesday. “The people running the New York Times believe that anyone who disagrees with them is committing assault.”
This isn’t new for the conservative host. In October last year NBC News complained that Carlson had “encouraged harassment” of journalist Brandy Zadrozny, who had written about social media companies banning QAnon and the rightwing plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer.
Carlson invited the former Donald Trump speechwriter Darren Beattie on to his show, and Beattie pilloried Zadrozny over her reporting, claiming she was using “this term ‘disinformation’ as a pretext to go after Trump supporters and destroy their lives”.
Carlson offered no rebuttal to Beattie, instead asking: “Why would NBC be doing something like this?"
Carlson also lambasted the then Teen Vogue columnist Lauren Duca multiple times in 2017, after she appeared on his show to defend her comments about Ivanka Trump being complicit in her father’s agenda. In that interview Carlson repeatedly talked over Duca and attacked her work, before becoming agitated after Duca called him a “partisan hack”.
Carlson ended the segment by mocking a story Duca had previously written about Ariana Grande’s thigh-high boots. He then told Duca: “You should stick to the thigh-high boots. You’re better at that.”
Carlson’s Fox News show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, è among the most watched shows on cable news, despite threats from upstart rightwing cable channels like NewsMax, granting him outsize influence in conservative politics and a fawning audience.
In a statement addressing the Lorenz saga, Fox News said: “No public figure or journalist is immune from legitimate criticism of their reporting, claims or journalistic tactics.”
But even before Carlson was propelled into the primetime Fox News lineup he had a troubling history of sexist comments, including the time he asked on Fox News’ morning show, Fox and Friends: “Are female breadwinners a recipe for disharmony within the home?"
Nel 2019 it emerged Carlson had described women as “extremely primitive” and “like dogs” in a radio appearance years earlier, suggesting his attitudes may have been present for some time.
It isn’t just women in journalism who have attracted Carlson’s ire.
Di mercoledì, fresh from subjecting Lorenz to further criticism, Carlson turned his focus to the military, ridiculing Joe Biden’s announcement that the armed forces had created specific uniforms for women, designed flight suits for women who are pregnant, and updated hairstyle requirements.
“So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits,” Carlson told his viewers. “Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the US military.”
Carlson’s remarks prompted a swift backlash from the US military and others.
Asked about the Fox News host’s discontent, a Pentagon spokesperson, John Kirby, said the military still had a “lot of work to do” to become “more inclusive, more respectful of everyone – especially women”.
“We pledge to do better, and we will,” Kirby said.
“What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talkshow host, or the Chinese military. Maybe those folks feel like they have something to prove. That’s on them.”