by William Trollinger
Over the past four months Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight has lost at least 34 advertisers thanks to Carlson’s history of offensive comments. Companies that have ceased to purchase advertising time include Farmers Insurance, Lexus, Red Lobster, and TD Ameritrade.
Some of Carlson’s comments are very recent, and some go back a decade. For those of you who have had the good fortune to miss out on what Carlson had to say, here are a few of the remarks that prompted the boycott:
- Immigrants make the US “poorer and dirtier and more divided.”
- Iraq is a country of “semi-illiterate monkeys.”
- When women earn more than men, the result is a decline in marriage and thus “more drug and alcohol abuse, [and] higher incarceration rates.” “more drug and alcohol abuse, [and] higher incarceration rates.”
- Regarding a teacher facing charges for performing a full-contact lap dance for a 15-year-old student, “There’s no victim here . . . a 15-year-old boy looks at this as, like, the greatest thing that ever happened.”
- In defending arranged marriages with underage girls, Carlson opined that “the rapist, in this case, has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person, so it is a little different.”
- “I love women, but they’re extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand.”
- “I feel sorry for unattractive women.”
- Martha Stewart’s daughter is a “c—” who desperately needs to be spanked.
Carlson not only has refused to apologize in any fashion for his remarks, but – as is the wont of conservative white guys under fire – he presents himself as the victim of a liberal/feminist witch hunt.
But not everyone is abandoning the “persecuted” multimillionaire. As Newsweek reports, “commercial breaks on Tucker Carlson Tonight over the past month have been filled with lesser known brands.” Companies currently advertising on Carlson’s show include My Pillow USA, Nutrisystem, Sandals Resorts, American Petroleum Institute, and . . . Ark Encounter.
What? The theme park devoted to making the case that God had to drown up to 20 billion people because of their wickedness is also financially supporting someone who traffics in misogynistic and racist remarks, and who finds it humorous to joke about underage sex?
To be fair, it is possible that Answers in Genesis (AiG) CEO Ken Ham simply does not find Carlson’s remarks to be offensive. For example, he has (as far as I can tell) had nothing to say about the plight of refugees at our southern border. Moreover, while Ham expends enormous energy blasting homosexuality he has (again, as far as I can tell) been silent about sexual harassment in the Southern Baptist Convention and elsewhere in fundamentalism.
More than this, AiG is all in for patriarchy, repeatedly making the case that wives should happily “accept their role as submissive helpers,” in this way emulating Jesus’ submission to the Father and the Spirit’s submission to both (Righting 174). While the latter claim seems to violate orthodox Christian theology, it does powerful work on behalf of cementing female subordination. And when it comes to violating sexual taboos, the Creation Museum (in explaining that Adam and Eve’s son Cain married his sister) explicitly asserts that heterosexual incest was not a problem for millennia:
While “sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage, whether between close relatives or not, has been wrong from the beginning,” marriage “between close relatives was not a problem in early biblical history,” as long as “it was one man for one woman (the biblical doctrine of marriage)” (Righting 177).
All this to say that it may be the case that Ham and his AiG colleagues are not bothered by Carlson’s racist misogyny and underage sex jokes.
Or perhaps all this is beside the point. As we argue in Righting America, AiG, the Creation Museum, and (now) Ark Encounter are Christian Right enterprises that are about “preparing and arming crusaders for the ongoing culture war” (15). And Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Donald Trump would seem to be on the same team, no matter how offensive and how at odds with the Gospel their statements may be.
In the end, maybe we should not be at all surprised that Ark Encounter is purchasing ads on Carlson’s program, regardless of what dreadful things he says.
Well, maybe not regardless. If he were to joke about gay sex, that might be the bridge too far.