NEW YORK – Tucker Carlson says The New York Times wants to put his family in danger, the newspaper says he knowingly lied and now the Fox News host's fans are taking up the fight.
The latest media conflagration flaring Tuesday is more than ideological, with issues of personal privacy and safety at its heart.
Carlson, the prime-time host who has just returned from a vacation after his top writer quit for publishing racist material online, said Monday on Fox News Channel that the Times was working on a story about where he and his family live. He said there's “no conceivable justification” journalistically for such a story.
“Why is The New York Times doing a story on the location of my family's home?” he asked. “Well, you know why. To hurt us. To injure my wife and kids so I will shut up and stop disagreeing with them. They believe in force.”
In response, the Times said that while it doesn't confirm what it might or might not publish, it “does not plan to expose any residence of Tucker Carlson's, which Carlson was aware of before his broadcast.”
Fox News had no comment on the issue Tuesday.
Carlson, a polarizing political commentator, has reasons for concern about the issue. In 2018, a group of about 20 demonstrators came to his home in Washington, D.C. one night, pounding on and damaging his front door while his wife was home alone.
She called police while hiding in a closet, he said.
Protesters returned another time, and sent threatening messages, he said. He eventually sold the house and moved his family.
“We tried to ignore it,” he said. “It felt cowardly to sell our house and leave. We'd raised our kids in the neighborhood and loved it. But in the end, that's what we did. We have four children. It just wasn't worth it.”
Carlson now has homes on Florida's Gulf Coast and in western Maine, according to published reports.
He told the Sun Journal newspaper in Lewiston, Maine, for a story published Tuesday that he now lives in Maine for much of the year. Reportedly, he has taped many of his shows from a library near his home and is renovating a former town garage for use as a broadcast studio.
On his show Monday, Carlson put in motion the scenario — that he himself objected to — for a reporter and photographer supposedly working on the Times story. He broadcast their names and, in the reporter's case, a picture.
“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?” Carlson said. “What if we published the home addresses of the soulless robot editors at the New York Times who assigned and managed this incitement to violence against my family?”
Some of Carlson's fans — he usually attracts some 4 million viewers each weeknight — apparently took that as a signal.
Several people on Twitter posted what they said was an address and phone numbers for Carpenter, along with an address and photo of a house supposedly owned by Spinski. It was not clear if they were accurate.
One message, retweeted more than a hundred times, was from a woman who said her son was friends with Carlson's children. One person posted: “Karma is coming for you, Murray,” and another wrote: “We will be visiting Mr Carpenters family this weekend.”
Carpenter writes occasionally for The New York Times, most recently a piece last year about the late artist Robert Indiana and the home he bought on a remote island in Maine.
The Times had no immediate comment about the posting of the information. A message left at Carpenter's home was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this piece.