By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

That time when Tucker Carlson sicced his mob on two freelance journalists

Carlson calling: Telephone sculpture in Bryant Pond, Maine. Photo (cc) 2019 by Zendry 423.

The Boston Globe has published a story about ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s summer home in Bryant Pond, Maine, and how residents are taking his defenestration. Reading it reminded me that two years ago I gave Carlson a New England Muzzle Award for siccing his on-air mob on two freelance journalists who, he falsely claimed, were seeking to dox him by exposing the exact location of his Maine redoubt. Here’s what I wrote at the time for GBH News:

One night last July [2020], three members of a terrified family locked themselves in an upstairs room of their home in Maine as someone — apparently more than one — pounded on the door and tried to get in.

“My brother-in-law is a journalist and a news source posted his name on, uh, Tucker Carlson show and his address and things of that nature so he has, um, been getting threats all night long,” said the brother-in-law of Tristan Spinski, a freelance photographer who occasionally gets assignments from The New York Times. Spinski and his wife were there as well. The quote comes from a 911 call obtained by Erik Wemple of The Washington Post.

So what happened? Last summer, Tucker Carlson claimed, falsely, on his Fox News show that the Times was planning to dox him in an upcoming story by revealing the address of his home in Maine and running photos of it. He called out the journalists by name: “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?” And he let his adoring fans do the rest.

“The threats against the two freelancers came via email, voice mail, etc.,” wrote Wemple — even though the Times had reportedly already assured Carlson on two separate occasions that the story would not include the address or photos of his home.

Carlson has a weird history regarding his privacy in Maine. Two years ago, he canceled plans to build a studio next to a public library from which he sometimes hosts his show, blaming the Sun Journal of Lewiston for revealing the location. Yet he had all but announced its coordinates on the air, referring to it as “the northernmost bureau of Fox News.” A year later, his plans were apparently back on again.

In any case, putting two freelance journalists at risk of bodily harm even though he had been told they had no intention of doxxing him had its intended effect. The story never ran. And though the Times has a well-deserved reputation for resisting intimidation, freelance journalists everywhere were put on notice not to mess with Tucker Carlson.

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1 Comment

  1. Mike Rice

    The perfect place to fade away.

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