Although he has consistently remained among cable television’s highest-rated personalities, Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson has also remained among the most controversial.
USA Today columnist Steven Petrow has joined the growing chorus of critics who believe the popular pundit should be removed from the airwaves.
“Confront and harass mask wearers”
In a piece published on Monday, Petrow argued that Carlson’s commentary could “get someone killed.”
The columnist took particular issue with comments Carlson made regarding the perceived ineffectiveness of facemasks, accusing him of inciting “strangers to confront and harass mask wearers” in public.
Petrow went on to link such rhetoric to a recent experience he claimed to have had while wearing a mask on a walk outdoors in Miami, Florida.
“Coming from North Carolina, where masks were still required in public, I had mine on,” he wrote. “I understood there’s no such requirement in Florida, where folks are free to wear — or not wear — a mask outdoors.”
During his outing, Petrow recalled that “a stranger on a bicycle” confronted him as they approached each other.
“Used his primetime bully pulpit”
“I thought maybe he knew me but instead he shouted: ‘You got a mask on? Yeah, I got a (expletive) mask. You want me to shove it down your throat?'” he wrote.
Petrow added that the entire ordeal left him feeling “startled” and “afraid of this person’s out-of-the-blue and incendiary rage.”
Attempting to link his own personal experience to Carlson’s on-air rhetoric, he wrote that the Fox News host “used his primetime bully pulpit to urge his millions of viewers to confront strangers — like me — who choose to wear masks in public (and even to call 911 if they see kids wearing a mask).”
In an accompanying Fox News opinion piece, Carlson referred to the use of facemasks outdoors as “repulsive,” urging viewers to push back against the practice until it “is roughly as socially acceptable as lighting a Marlboro in an elevator.”
Carlson’s commentary has led to previous efforts to convince Fox News to fire him or for advertisers to pull their sponsorships of his show, but the network has thus far continued to defend him. As for Petrow, he referenced a riot on Capitol Hill earlier this year in concluding that the host should be fired “before his dangerous rhetoric turns deadly, exactly the way Trump’s did on Jan. 6.”