A friendly word of advice to folks who live in and around the hamlet of Bryant Pond: If Tucker Carson drives like he communicates, you might want to stay off the roads for the foreseeable future.

Carlson, the top on-air personality at Fox News, has in recent years taped many, if not most, of his weeknight shows from a small studio he built near his longtime vacation home in Bryant Pond, just southeast of Bethel. Which, after his performances last week on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” now qualifies him as Maine’s official state embarrassment.

I write these words at my own risk. The last time any journalists from Maine dared travel in his lane – a freelance reporter and photographer working on a feature about his out-of-the-way digs for The New York Times – poor Tucker denounced it as “an attempt to intimidate and incite violence against my family for political reasons.” The writer and photographer ended up deluged with harassment and outright threats from viewers who follow Carlson wherever he goes – even when it’s off a cliff.

Back to last week.

On Tuesday, as the sane world held its breath and prayed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would rethink his plan to invade neighboring Ukraine, Carlson delivered an on-air rant that, even by Fox News standards, was as despicable as it was moronic.

“It might be worth asking yourself … why do I hate Putin so much?” Carlson asked, referring to those who see the Russian leader for the despot he is. “Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs? These are fair questions. And the answer to all of them is no. Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that.”


Fair questions? In reality – a place Carlson studiously avoids on a nightly basis – this was crazy talk. And Carlson, well aware that his role on Fox is to incite, not inform, knew it.

But, with millions watching, he went ahead anyway. He called the Ukraine crisis a “border dispute.” He even suggested, with that trademark look of a choir boy who just got caught stealing his seatmate’s hymnal, that the White House’s defense of Ukraine might be rooted in “repaying Joe Biden’s personal debts to Ukrainian oligarchs.”

It was so off the wall, so antithetical to America’s bedrock beliefs in freedom and democracy, so transparently tailored to an audience that will lap up anything Carlson feeds them, that even Carlson eventually had to hard-shift into reverse.

By Thursday, as Russian tanks rolled across Ukraine and real innocent people began shedding real blood, you could almost hear the gears grinding: Carlson, clearly aware that he’d overstepped, recast what 48 hours earlier had been a mere “border dispute” into something far worse.

“It’s a tragedy, because war always is a tragedy, and the closer you get to it, the more horrifying it seems,” he somberly observed.

And all that rootin’ for Putin? It was like watching someone suddenly make a U-turn without so much as hitting the brakes.


“Vladimir Putin started this war,” Carlson said. “So whatever the context of the decision he made, he did it. He fired the first shot. He is to blame for what we’re seeing tonight in Ukraine.”

Then, without even checking his mirror, he hit the gas again. Noting the need for U.S. leaders to “think about (the unfolding war) in the most sober possible way,” he lamented that, alas, “some of them seem reckless and, as usual, ignorant.”

Sure, Tucker. They’re reckless and ignorant. And you, as you careen through this pivotal moment in world history like a habitual offender with one hand holding the wheel while the other takes a selfie, are our resident Rhodes scholar.

I don’t know if last week’s broadcasts came from Carlson’s studio in Bryant Pond – an old garage he bought from the town and renovated – or from elsewhere. But the fact that so much of his work originates here should make all of us cringe.

I know. Some Mainers hang on his every word. And in a column that ran four years ago in the Norway Advertiser Democrat – long before he got so touchy about The New York Times allegedly invading his privacy – Carlson spoke in glowing terms about the place that’s been his home away from home since his childhood.

In Bryant Pond, he said, “people are not in your face or your business. They are not asking you personal questions. You can walk down the street dressed in a unicorn costume if you want to, and no one will yell at you from the car or demand why. It’s your thing, not their thing. I really appreciate that.”


I wonder if that’s still true. If I were driving by and saw Carlson – dressed not as a unicorn but as a Putin puppet – I wonder if I’d be able to keep going without slowing down, lowering the window and bellowing that old taunt conservatives used to hurl at us hippies 50 years ago: If things are so bad here, Bub, why don’t you move to Russia?

To those Mainers who still cheer Carlson on, come hell or high treason, ask yourselves this question: In a battle between freedom and oppression, between liberty and the loss of one’s country to a power-hungry invader, since when do Americans line up behind the tyrant?

Or to be more blunt, when are you going to realize that Carlson, in his myopic quest for ever-higher ratings, is playing you like a fiddle – pulling for the very Russians you once detested while insisting that Democrats are the source of all evil?

Yeah right, last week was all Biden’s fault. And Russia’s ongoing promotion of Carlson’s soliloquy, alongside equally mindless babble from Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is a good thing.

As for the rest of us, be advised: Bryant Pond’s old town garage now houses one of the nation’s most reckless clown cars. And its wheels are coming off.

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