Carlson was born into an affluent Republican family. His father, Richard Warner Carlson, was a former Los Angeles news anchor and U.S. ambassador. He was also the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. His mother was Lisa McNear Lombardi, however she left the family when Carlson was 6 in order to pursue a Bohemian lifestyle. His father remarried Patricia Caroline Swanson, an heiress to the Swanson frozen-food fortune, four years later.
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Don't Miss: Eric Greitens
Carlson had a predictable boarding school education at St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island. He later joined the University of Trinity where he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in history. The degree gave him a broader perspective to understand political matter and this laid a foundation for his careers as a political analyst.
Carlson's first career position was that of a fact-checker for Policy Review, a national conservative journal. He then moved on to be a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, Arkansas and ultimately joined The Weekly Standard in 1995. As a journalist, he participated in columns for New York and Reader's Digest, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and The Daily Beast.
In 2002 Carlson took a position at CNN where he co-hosted the program The Spin Room and the Crossfire. He gained popularity there, often representing the right, but was most remembered for a verbal altercation with John Stewart in October 2004. Stewart proposed that Carlson and the nature of his show (Crossfire) were harming meaningful political discourse in the United States. In January 2005, CNN announced that Carlson would no longer be a member of the company and that Crossfire would be canceled.
Carlson was hired by MSNBC for the self-titled show Tucker that premiered on June 13, 2005. The show continued for three seasons before low ratings caused its cancellation on March 14, 2008. Carlson claimed that the network's audience was moving towards the left.
Carlson moved to the largely conservative Fox News channel as a contributor in May 2009. On November 14, 2016 he began hosting Tucker Carlson Tonight, which debuted as the "network's most watched telecast of the year in the time slot." It's premiere was viewed by 3.7 million people and was rated higher than On the Record, which it replaced. Forbes reported in January 2017 that the show had "consistently high ratings averaging 2.8 million viewers per night." In March of that year it was the most watched cable program in its time slot. It was the third highest-rated cable news show of any time slot in March of the next year.
Carson published a memoir in 2003 titled Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News. In May of 2017 he signed an eight figure, two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. The first book, Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list in October 2018.
Carlson was a contestant on season 3 of Dancing with the Stars in 2006. He was paired with professional dancer Elena Geinenko and even took a daily four-hour ballroom dance class in preparation. Despite his efforts, he was the first contestant of the season eliminated on September 13, 2006.
CNN, GQ, Business Insider, and Vox have stated that Carlson's show promoted and echoed white supremacist discourse. He has also been accused of demonizing immigrants, both illegal and legal. When Carlson defended his brother's statement that a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was a "whiny little self-righteous bitch", the former speaker of the New York City Council, Christine Quinn, called on him to apologize for his "offensive" and "sexist" comments.
As a prank, Carlson once gave out the Fox News direct reporting line on the air and stated it was his home phone number. Fox received hundreds of calls intended for Carlson. In response, they corrected the number to Carlson's actual home phone number.
On October 13, 2018, Carlson's daughter was verbally assaulted while dining with her family at the Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Virginia. Rumors spread that Tucker and his son had, in return, physically assaulted the assailant. Carlson defended, however, that although his son threw a glass of red wine in the man's face, they never physically assaulted him. A three-week investigation led to removal of the man's club membership and Carlson issued a public statement on November 11, 2018. It was later revealed that the man identified both as homosexual and Latino, although Carlson stated "What happened ...has nothing to do with identity politics. It was a grotesque violation of decency. I've never seen anything like it my life."
On November 7, 2018, Carlson claimed his home was damaged by a group of Antifa protesters. Carlson was at work, but his wife was home alone. According to Carlson, the protesters hurled themselves against the door, terrifying his wife and causing her to barricade herself in another room. The group, who posted public threats on Twitter and took responsibility for the incident, denied any damage to the home. The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C. has further found no evidence of damage and has made no arrests. In response to a CNN report on the event, Carlson angrily told Fox news that CNN has a history of defending Antifa and that the report was "a disgusting attempt to minimize an attack on my family and bring more pain to my wife and four children."
Carlson has three daughters (Lillie, Hopie, Dorothy) and one son (Buckley) with his wife, Susan Carlson (Andrews). They were high school sweethearts, meeting when they were only 15. "She was the cutest 10th grader in America", he stated. She felt the same, stating that Carlson had "...a bounce in his walk. He was in his khaki pants and ribbon belt and I thought, even then, he seemed so optimistic and positive." Not only Susan a classmate, but in the conservative boarding school she was also the Headmaster's daughter.
The family currently lives in a renovated early 1900's farmhouse in Alexandria. Susan is a stay-at-home mother.
Carlson can be reached on his Facebook account, tuckercarlsonFOX, or that of his show, TuckerCarlsonTonight. He regularly updates his Twitter, @TuckerCarlson, which has more than 2.33 million followers.
Last Modified: Apr 8, 2020