Tucker Carlson in the second quarter set a record for the highest-rated cable news show ever, averaging 4.331 million viewers per night. He drives White House policy with his programming, his phone calls and even a visit to Mar-a-Lago to impress upon President Trump the urgency of coronavirus countermeasures. And now this titan of American politics and culture is whining that the New York Times has assigned a freelance writer to do an article about him. For real.

On his Monday night program, Carlson scolded: “Last week, the New York Times began working on a story about where my family and I live,” said the host. “As a matter of journalism, there is no conceivable justification for a story like that. The paper is not alleging we’ve done anything wrong, and we haven’t. We pay our taxes. We like our neighbors. We’ve never had a dispute with anyone.”

As he continued, Carlson cranked up the conspiracy-speak: “So why is the New York Times doing a story on the location of my family’s house? Well, you know why. To hurt us. To injure my wife and kids so that I will shut up and stop disagreeing with them. They believe in force. We’ve learned that.” With that, Carlson told the story of how protesters show up at his home in 2018. “A group of screaming antifa lunatics showed up while I was at work. They vandalized our home. They threatened my wife. She called 911 while hiding in a closet.”

Carlson left out that at the time, he alleged that the protesters pounded on his door so hard that they “cracked” it. The door appeared to be in fine working condition when the Erik Wemple Blog inspected it hours later. Whatever the door’s condition, Carlson told his audience on Monday night that after that incident and threatening letters sent to the family, they bailed. “We have four children. It just wasn’t worth it,” he said. “But the New York Times followed us. The paper has assigned a political activist called Murray Carpenter to write a story about where we are now. They’ve hired a photographer called Tristan Spinski to take pictures.”

Oh no, not the dreaded Carpenter-Spinski combo!

Then Carlson flashed his typically insidious broadcasting style. Without saying in so many words that the Times would dox him, he essentially alleged that the Times would dox him. He did this by posing some hypotheticals:

So how would Murray Carpenter and his photographer, Tristan Spinski, feel if we told you where they live? If we put pictures of their homes on the air?
What if we publicize the home address of every one of the soulless robot editors at the New York Times who assigned and managed this incitement to violence against my family?
What about the media editor Jim Windolf? We could do that. We know who they are. Would that qualify as journalism? We doubt they’d consider it journalism. They’d call it criminal behavior if we did it, and that tells you everything.

We’ve asked Fox News if it knows of any plan by the Times to dox Carlson. We’ll update this post if we receive a response. As for the newspaper itself, a spokesperson issued this statement: “While we do not confirm what may or may not publish in future editions, The New York Times does not plan to expose Tucker Carlson’s residence, which Carlson was aware of before his broadcast.”

The Erik Wemple Blog has no inside knowledge of the Times’s story, though Carpenter and Spinski — that “intrusive” duo — both work in Maine, where Carlson spends his summers. That’s no secret. Last year, Carlson told the National Conservatism Conference that he spends three months of the year in the state. Back in 2017, he spoke with a writer from GQ at his favorite haunts in and around Oxford County, Maine. Here’s a snippet from the resulting story:

He calls his time in Andover “the pivotal experience of my political life.” The town is nearly all white, and unemployment has been high since most of the manufacturing jobs left 30 years ago.
“It’s been a longitudinal study of the same place. It had stores and a barbershop, and a car-repair place, and I used to get my hair cut there as a kid.” Carlson pauses for a second and sighs. “And I’ve watched the town collapse.”
Last year, Carlson tried to track down a local contractor for some work he needed done on his house but couldn’t find him. So he called a mutual buddy and asked what happened to the guy.
“He’s a junkie,” reported the friend.
Carlson sees a direct link between American immigration and trade policies and the death of towns like Andover. Jobs are being lost either to foreigners overseas or to foreigners on our own turf.
“Everything I say on immigration is totally sincere,” says Carlson. “That’s not a subject that I’m demagoguing on. Our immigration policy is insane and really hurting the country.”

Maine-based publications, furthermore, have documented how Carlson bought a garage in a small town to house his studio, from which he tapes “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

If indeed the Times is exploring Carlson’s life in Maine, the topic is more newsworthy than ever. As this blog pointed out in May, Carlson placed the state in the center of his coronavirus coverage. In segment after segment, he blasted Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’s coronavirus policies, at one point calling her “the most incompetent dictatorial, self-involved governor I’ve seen in a long time.” And in a segment in which Oxford County restaurateur Rick Savage laid out his plan to defy Mills’s shutdown order, Carlson wished him “good luck.”

In an interview at the time, Savage had positive things to say about Carlson: “He has land in Maine and he loves Maine and that’s why he’s so passionate about Maine.” Savage isn’t alone: When the Erik Wemple Blog left a message for a municipal official in Maine in regards to Carlson’s pursuit of the studio garage, we heard back not from the municipal official, but from Carlson himself, who had been tipped off to our curiosity. So it seems as though some folks up there like Carlson, raising the possibility that he was preemptively attacking a puff piece. We’ll see.

Watch Opinions videos:

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is gaslighting viewers about protests against racism and police brutality, but the movement's basic truths are undeniable. (The Washington Post)