Thanks to his time on Fox News, Tucker Carlson is an instantly recognizable face. And because the Tucker Carlson Tonight host certainly isn’t shy about giving his opinions both on and off screen – sometimes provoking a little controversy as he goes – you may think that you have the total measure of the man. In actual fact, though, there’s more that you may have missed about the political commentator – and some of Carlson’s story could very well surprise you.
For starters, Carlson paints himself as something of a romantic hero. In 2018 he told the Columbia Journalism Review, “My role is really simple: I want to tell the truth as I see it. I want to be as honest as I can. I don’t think of myself as representing any group of people anywhere.”
And perhaps that desire for truth-telling has its origin somewhere in Carlson’s childhood. In any case, his own father, Richard Warner Carlson, had himself worked in journalism before moving on to become Voice of America’s director. Then, later in life, Richard had become a diplomat, heading up the mission to the Seychelles. Carlson, meanwhile, was born as the first son of Richard and his former wife Lisa McNear.
But that family unit would eventually dissolve. Carlson has asserted, for example, that his mother had disappeared from the picture in pursuit of a more nonconformist lifestyle when he had just been a small boy. Eventually, McNear would go on to spend her days in South Carolina and in southern France, during which she allegedly only touched base with Carlson intermittently. She went on to remarry, too, getting hitched to the artist Michael Vaughn.
Carlson wasn’t the only child in the family, though, as by that point McNear had given birth to another son: Buckley Peck Carlson. Then, in 1976, Carlson’s mom and dad finalized their divorce after nine years of marriage. And after that, Richard ended up with custody of the two young boys, whom he set out to raise on his own.
Richard took a certain position on bringing up his sons, too. According to reports, he once said, “I want [the boys] to be self-disciplined to the degree that I think is necessary to find satisfaction… You measure a person on how far they go, on how far they’ve sprung. My parents, the Carlsons – they instilled a modesty in me that, at times, gets in my way.”
Then, a few years later in 1979, the boys had a new stepmom: Patricia Swanson. She was an heiress of the Swanson fortune, which had been built on the back of the range of frozen meals that her father and uncle had originated. And Swanson would go on to officially adopt Richard’s sons.
The family would relocate, too, to La Jolla, California. There, the future Fox News Host went to La Jolla Country Day School and lived right next to the beach. His father also had homes in Vermont and Nevada and even owned islands in both Nova Scotia and Maine.
Then, when he got to high school age, Carlson went away to board at St. George’s School in Middleton, Rhode Island. He didn’t just receive an education at the institution, however; he also met his future wife there. Yes, St. George’s School is where Carlson and Susan Andrews had their initial encounter, and a lasting romance eventually blossomed between the two of them. Carlson also ultimately studied for a history degree at Trinity College, which is located in Hartford, Connecticut.
That said, the then-fledgling journalist did eventually return to St. George’s. He wed Andrews, you see, in the school’s chapel – the very place where the two had first met – with the couple remaining together ever since. And Carlson and Andrews have since gone on to welcome four children – the first being Lillie, who entered the world in 1995.
Carlson’s professional life has gone from strength to strength, too. After a failed attempt at joining the CIA, he earned a position as a fact-checker at conservative publication Policy Review – the first in a long line of jobs in print media. When he initially found his way onto television, however, it was apparently by accident.
Specifically, Dan Rather’s people had hired Carlson as an expert on O.J. Simpson after they had called his office and found him to be the only journalist around at the time. And as Carlson was subsequently asked to appear on 48 Hours, he wasn’t about to let his ignorance about Simpson stop him from taking his chance from breaking into national TV.
Perhaps that was the right decision, too, as Carlson would prove that he had the chops for the small screen. After acting as co-host of The Spin Room, he shared the helm of Crossfire on CNN, where he would appear every other night as the right-wing half of a presenting duo and ultimately gain a reputation for his combative style. Unfortunately, though, the show ultimately struggled in the ratings and was switched to a less desirable afternoon position in the schedule.
Nevertheless, Carlson earned further notoriety in 2004, when liberal comic Jon Stewart expressed dissatisfaction with the other man’s approach to political debate. The Daily Show host gave Carlson both barrels, in fact, when he appeared on Crossfire and attacked the journalist for boiling issues down to simple partisan points. Stewart said, “[This approach is] hurting America. Here is what I wanted to tell you guys: stop. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.”
Carlson’s time at CNN would come to an end soon after, as in January 2005 he was told that he was no longer needed at the network. But the host would claim that he had already been on his way out of the door, later explaining to Patricia Duff that CNN had been “a frustrating place to work.”
Carlson didn’t stay off the nation’s screens for long, though, as his show The Situation with Tucker Carlson debuted on MSNBC in June 2005. That show – later named simply Tucker – took him to the Middle East, where he gave broadcasts on the 2006 Lebanon War. Carlson also presented a wrap-up show on the 2006 Winter Olympics and could often be seen on Verdict with Dan Abrams.
But Carlson’s tenure at MSNBC would end in 2008. Poor ratings saw the network cancel Tucker, and – perhaps in a sign of the times at MSNBC – the show’s spaces in the evening schedule were eventually filled by series that featured liberal commentators Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow.
Ideologically, then, Fox News was perhaps a better fit for Carlson, and he found a spot as a contributor on the network in May 2009. At first, he appeared on panels and as a stand-in for Sean Hannity on his self-titled show. He additionally turned his hand to production, creating a special about schools that he also hosted.
In 2010, however, Carlson turned his hand back to journalism with the launch of the news website The Daily Caller. There, he acted as editor-in-chief, also providing op-eds from time to time. And within a month, The Daily Caller had made enough of an impact to gain a place in the White House press pool.
Carlson insisted, too, that The Daily Caller would not be politically rigid but would instead be interested in serious news stories. In a 2010 interview with The Washington Post, he explained, “We’re not enforcing any kind of ideological orthodoxy on anyone.” After Carlson decided not to run a piece by columnist Mickey Kraus that found fault with Fox News’ immigration coverage, however, he decided to quit the site.
At least Carlson still had his TV career to fall back on, and he stepped up from guest hosting Fox & Friends to become a regular weekend co-host in place of Dave Briggs. Then, in April 2013, he appeared alongside Clayton Morris and Alisyn Camerota during weekend mornings. But as it happens, the commentator would soon be moving on to even bigger things.
Yes, in November 2016 Carlson’s show Tucker Carlson Tonight began, and straight away it proved a ratings hit. The series’ first episode in fact attracted 3.7 million viewers – more than On the Record, which it had replaced. And according to Business Insider, such impressive figures were enough to make Tucker Carlson Tonight’s debut “the network’s most watched telecast of the year in the time slot.”
Given that big launch, then, it’s perhaps no surprise to hear that Carlson’s show was a success. On the network, its ratings made it second only to The O’Reilly Factor, whose slot it took when the Bill O’Reilly series was axed. And Tucker Carlson Tonight remained in the top three most-watched cable news shows through 2019, consistently scoring just below the three million viewer mark.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Carlson, as advertisers headed for the exits in 2018 and 2019 following the host’s comments that immigration into the U.S. had left the nation “poorer, dirtier and more divided.” And while Fox News subsequently claimed that space buyers had simply shifted to other shows, Carlson’s commercial breaks nevertheless began to thin, with close to 50 advertisers publicly disavowing his show – and claims that many more had quit on the quiet.
Carlson would attract further opprobrium in 2019 when he argued that white supremacy was a “hoax” in the U.S. In August of that year, he said on his show, “If you were to assemble a list – a hierarchy of concerns [and] problems this country has – where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia, probably. It’s actually not a real problem in America.”
Carlson’s comments didn’t go down well with other media faces, either. CNN’s Brian Stelter described the claims as “nonsensical,” while Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan claimed that they were just “wrong.” A campaign to have Carlson canned from Fox News also started. And it even seemed that there was opposition to the star on Fox News itself, as fellow host Shepard Smith would assert in response, “White nationalism is without question a very serious problem in America.”
To try to discern the truth of the matter, then, in August 2019 The New York Times talked to the Southern Poverty Law Center about the number of white supremacists in the U.S. Spokesman Bob Hopkinson explained, however, that it was “extremely difficult” to give exact figures. He added, “Groups are either extremely private about membership numbers, or they exaggerate them. What we do know is that there are more than 300,000 people registered as users on the oldest hate site, Stormfront.”
And the ongoing controversies in which Carlson has found himself have led to harsh criticism from some quarters. For instance, Crooked Media founder and Pod Save America host Jon Lovett tweeted in January 2018, “Tucker Carlson’s transition from conservative serious-ish writer to blustery CNN guy to Daily Caller troll to race-baiting Fox News host is like ice core data on what led to this moment in our politics.”
However, it should be noted that not everyone criticizes Carlson’s tough approach. One fan, Colleen H., explained to the Columbia Journalism Review, “I like the way he has his guests on, and they can’t say anything but the truth. He asks them a simple question, and they go round and round the truth. He stays right on top of the subject at hand, if his guests don’t… They only have so long to answer.”
And Carlson is, after all, a man of strong opinions. Curiously, one is that he isn’t fond of Oprah Winfrey. Apparently, Carlson gave up on her show after his son was born because, as he claimed on Fox in 2014, it had been “too anti-male.” In addition, the host said, Oprah “was constantly attacking men.” He continued, “Keep your girls away from rap, keep your boys away from Oprah, and everybody will be fine.”
But it’s not all hate, as Carlson does have a love that isn’t widely known. You see, he’s a huge fan of hippy legends the Grateful Dead, and he supposedly takes time out to listen to the band – which he’s seen over 50 times – every day. Back in 2005 he told The New York Sun, “Following the Grateful Dead was one of the last structured-but-wild things you could do in America – at least when I was in high school and college.”
Carlson continued, “I always liked how apolitical the band was – at least, in public. [Singer Jerry] Garcia’s position seemed to be, ‘We’re just musicians. We’re not here to tell you what to do or how to think.’ He was totally opposed to lectures – giving or receiving them. He was the opposite of the self-righteous liberals who ran the schools I went to.”
Perhaps better known is Carlson’s long-time affinity for the bow tie, which he first donned at St. George’s School in 1984. And he was seen in examples of the neckwear for more than 20 years until he finally caved to pressure from his producers. In April 2006 Carlson told MSNBC viewers, “I like bow ties, and I certainly spent a lot of time defending them. But, from now on, I’m going without.”
The bow tie isn’t the only thing that Carlson has quit, however. He’s also a reformed heavy drinker, having given up booze in 2002. At that time, he had simply decided that he’d ceased to enjoy the experience of consuming alcohol – either while drunk or when getting over it the next day. He’d already stopped smoking a few years beforehand, too.
Yet while Carlson has made cigarettes a thing of the past, he still has a nicotine gum habit. In fact, his jaw only takes a rest from chewing the gum when he’s on camera or taking a meal – during which he typically refrains from eating too much carb-heavy food.
One thing Carlson has claimed not to have enjoyed, however, was the attention that he received from an unnamed woman with whom he wasn’t acquainted. In his 2003 book Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News, the host asserted that the individual in question had been mentally ill. He also said that she had claimed he’d raped her – a very serious allegation which, naturally, he denied.
Elsewhere, Carlson’s reputation as an outspoken conservative may seem at odds with his party registration. Yes, the Fox News pundit actually officially enrolled as a Democrat – although he has a good explanation. In 2017 Carlson told Business Insider that he had wanted to vote in Washington, D.C.’s mayoral election, and that meant belonging to a party that he “sincerely [despises]… It’s really a force for bad in this country.”
Carlson also explained why he bothered submitting his ballot, saying, “I always vote for the more corrupt candidate over the idealist. Always. The person who will just like be happy taking payoffs from developers and leave me alone… Every four years, there’s some guy who’s like, ‘I’m going to make your life better!’ I vote against that person every single time.”
But it appears that Carlson doesn’t entirely hate the idea of making people’s lives better. For one, he backs D.C. charity Horton’s Kids, which helps disadvantaged young people in the city. The suggestion that he should get behind the non-profit came from CNN’s Jake Tapper, who also advocates for the organization.
And back in 2006 Carlson made another surprising move when he appeared on season three of Dancing with the Stars alongside pro Elena Grinenko. However, despite daily rehearsals, the journalist did not prove a natural, and he ended up getting booted from the show after the first vote.
As it turns out, then, there’s a lot going on for Tucker Carlson away from the camera. But another news host whose personal life has attracted its fair share of attention is Diane Sawyer. The anchor was seemingly everywhere until she stood down from her ABC World News gig. So, where exactly did she go?
For many Americans, Sawyer was a familiar face on ABC World News. Then in June 2014 the network announced that she’d be stepping down as news anchor on the show, and her public appearances consequently became less frequent. Where is Sawyer now, then, and what has she been up to since leaving her position?
For those of you who are regular news viewers, Sawyer’s name may be practically synonymous with hard-hitting journalism. Her career has been long and storied, too; she has been on and off our TV screens since 1967, in fact. But Sawyer’s penchant for public affairs seemingly began many decades ago in Louisville, Kentucky, where her family relocated shortly after she was born.
The future news anchor had come into the world in December 1945, in Glasgow, Kentucky, as the youngest child of Jean Sawyer and Erbon Powers “Tom” Sawyer. Sawyer wouldn’t find her calling, however, until she was in her teens and working as editor-in-chief for The Arrow, the newspaper at Louisville’s Seneca High School.
Nor was that Sawyer’s sole achievement when she was young. In 1963, for example, she emerged victorious in America’s Junior Miss scholarship pageant. The future journalist won in part thanks to an essay that focused on the different types of music that had emerged during the American Civil War.
Then after Sawyer graduated in journalism from the University of Louisville, things began heating up professionally for her. Firstly, Kentucky station WLKY-TV hired her as its weather forecaster; ultimately, though, the position wasn’t exciting enough.
And so despite a later promotion to a general-assignment post, Sawyer looked to bigger things. In 1970, then, she moved to Washington, D.C., where the fledgling journalist took on the job of assistant to Jerry Warren – then the White House deputy press secretary. But that was just the beginning.
And it wasn’t long before Sawyer’s ambition lifted her even higher. That’s because, months later, she earned the role of assistant to White House press secretary Ron Ziegler. And in this position, she embarked on first drafts of public statements that President Nixon would ultimately make.
Sawyer’s foray into politics ended in 1978, however, when CBS News employed her as a reporter. Then, two years later, she became a political correspondent for the network. But the journalist’s television career really took off in 1981 when she became the co-anchor on CBS’ Morning with Charles Kuralt.
Sawyer’s promotion gave her a chance to show the world her own journalistic style, too, and she seized the opportunity. For a time, she appeared with her co-anchor on both Morning with Charles Kuralt and CBS Early Morning News; her debut on the former also coincided with a spike in its ratings.
However, when Kuralt left the show, the popularity surge became a slump. In 1984 Sawyer therefore requested another position, which CBS granted that same year. Her new role was as correspondent for the channel’s newsmagazine 60 Minutes, with Sawyer becoming the first woman to ever take up the job.
And perhaps thanks to Sawyer’s presence, 60 Minutes became one of America’s most popular TV shows. She stayed on in her job for half a decade, too, until in 1989 ABC News presented her with another role: co-anchor of Primetime Live.
Sawyer remained with ABC from then on, appearing on several different programs throughout her tenure. Among them was 20/20, on which she worked for two years alongside both Barbara Walters and her Primetime Live colleague Sam Donaldson.
In 1999 Sawyer then returned to morning news through co-anchoring Good Morning America. It’s a testament to both Sawyer’s reporting skills and popularity, too, that she made what was originally intended to be a temporary placement into a more than decade-long stint on the show.
Not only that, but the reporter returned to her old haunt Primetime – now known as Primetime Thursday – in 2000. And she worked on both shows for years before dedicating herself solely to Good Morning America from 2006.
On Good Morning America, Sawyer also broke many news stories to her viewers, including details of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. But although the journalist could have settled in for an even longer stint on the show, it appeared that she wasn’t yet done climbing the career ladder.
Yes, after a decade of co-anchoring Good Morning America, Sawyer revealed that she would be off to pastures new. “I’ve calculated [I’ve done] 2,881 shows, roughly,” she told ABC News in December 2009. It seemed as well that Sawyer wanted to go out with a bang. “I hope you celebrate with us this week [and] laugh this week [before I leave],” she added.
Even so, Sawyer’s co-anchor, Robin Roberts, expressed just how much she would miss her. “It is so difficult,” Roberts confessed to ABC News before comparing her partnership with Sawyer to that of Thelma and Louise. “My Thelma,” she gushed. “Thank you. We are going to do all things just like you this week.”
After that, Sawyer took on her new role as anchor for ABC World News Tonight. It appeared, too, that she was a hit with those watching: after her first month in the job, the program’s viewing figures increased by an impressive 8 percent.
In all, then, that popularity surge meant that nearly nine million viewers on average tuned in for each show. Meanwhile, Sawyer settled into the role, where she developed a signature sign-off: “I’ll see you right back here tomorrow night.”
And for the next five years, the public could have turned on their TV sets to see Sawyer reporting the daily news in whatever form it came in. Her style of interviewing was particularly hard-hitting, too. Robert Downey Jr. even referenced Sawyer’s powerful journalism during an emotional interview with the U.K.’s Channel 4.
Downey Jr. didn’t want his remark taken out of context, however. And as a result, he posted a picture of himself and Sawyer to Instagram not long after. The caption alongside the photo read, “A corrective experience with legitimate journalism” – a seeming approval of the anchor’s work.
Nevertheless, these days, Sawyer isn’t as frequent a sight on our TV screens as she once was. In fact, compared to her previous reporting presence, it may seem as though she’s disappeared completely. And while her absence raises many questions, it’s likely that there are lots of people all asking the same one: where is Sawyer now?
Well, you can trace Sawyer’s diminishing TV presence back to June 2014, when she made yet another announcement about her career. At that time, she revealed that she was stepping down as an anchor for ABC World News Tonight.
And on her last broadcast day with the show, Sawyer explained, “I’m not going far: down the hall, up the stairs. And I am not slowing down but gearing up in a new way [and] already at work on some of the stories that take you into the real lives around us. The ones we rarely get to see.”
Then sadly, in October 2014, Sawyer’s mother Jean passed away in Louisville. Though details of her specific illness weren’t reported, she was believed to have been in poor health for some time. Jean, who was 94 when she died, had been an elementary school teacher and a civic leader.
But despite her grief, Sawyer still gave a statement to the press that month in which she described her mom as “a force of nature, optimistic, spunky and energetic.” Furthermore, she said, Jean had had a real impact on those whom she had once taught.
Talking about her mom, Sawyer recounted, “Her students by the hundreds were jolted into the possibilities of their lives. She was a pioneering spirit.” And the journalist may have spoken from experience, too: after all, her mother was also her third-grade teacher.
But that wasn’t the only loss Sawyer suffered that year, as tragically her husband also passed away in 2014. The news reporter had been wed for 26 years to award-winning director Mike Nichols, who is perhaps best known for successful movies such as Working Girl, The Graduate and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
And Nichols’ passing came mere weeks after Jean’s death, meaning Sawyer was apparently hit especially hard. An unnamed friend of the reporter seemingly confirmed, too, how Sawyer had been struggling to cope during this tough time.
“Losing [Nichols] when [Sawyer] was still grieving over her mother is just an incredible emotional toll,” the anonymous source said to Closer Weekly. “But [she] is holding up as well as you could hope for.” And, understandably, it took the ex-anchor some time to adjust to her new circumstances, although her loved ones helped ease the transition.
But despite having experienced those devastating losses, Sawyer continued with her successful journalism career. For example, she returned to 20/20, where she embarked on special interviews with contemporary figures. And in earnest talks with Sawyer, guests revealed personal issues or spoke about subjects that they’d never publicly addressed before.
Take April 2015’s Bruce Jenner: The Interview, for example, which Sawyer hosted. There, Jenner came out to Sawyer – and, indeed, the world – as transgender with the four words, “I am a woman.” The former Olympian is now known by the name Caitlyn.
But that wasn’t the last big story that Sawyer would break with 20/20. Since then, she has covered several hard-hitting topics, in fact, during which she has gotten to the root of issues in her trademark direct yet sympathetic manner.
Nor has Sawyer remained untouched by loss since her husband and mother passed away. In March 2016 former First Lady Nancy Reagan died, and the journalist was invited to speak at the funeral. She was among many other distinguished guests at the occasion, including former president George W. Bush and Michelle Obama.
But Sawyer has resumed her on-point journalism, which has included a foray into the subject of Islamist terrorism. Her investigation, which looked into ISIS recruitment in America, actually began in 2016, meaning she and her team spent over a year researching the issue.
Then, in a special 20/20 feature broadcast in November 2017, Sawyer revealed the fruits of her and her colleagues’ labor. In the process of making the show, she had secured exclusive interviews with both teenage ISIS members and devastated parents trying to find their radicalized children.
Sawyer continued to pop up on screens throughout 2018, too. During that year, for example, she interviewed Sally Field on Good Morning America. And during the chat, the actress opened up to Sawyer about her relationship with the late Burt Reynolds.
Additionally, in April that year Sawyer tackled the topic of sexual harassment for ABC’s The View. In light of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal and the MeToo movement, the anchor took the issue to street level, where her investigation revealed how the same issue affects regular people as well as big Hollywood names.
Plus, Sawyer has already made an appearance in the press in 2019 – albeit as an interviewee. To help commemorate the 15th anniversary of its website TVNewser, Adweek questioned both Sawyer and her one-time co-anchor Roberts. And there, the pair revealed the truth behind their relationship.
“Sometimes I think we had the same parents,” Sawyer told Adweek. And Roberts concurred. “I often feel that way,” she said, adding that Sawyer is a genuinely caring person. So, although we don’t see Sawyer as often as we used to, she is still very much in the spotlight. And as the veteran broadcaster once said herself, she’s not gone far.