CNN anchor Brianna Keilar joined other CNN hosts on Wednesday in ripping Fox News host Tucker Carlson for his two-day series of attacks on Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), telling the conservative primetime star he was the “moron” for questioning the patriotism of a Purple Heart recipient.
After Carlson said Duckworth was a “deeply silly and unimpressive person” who hated America for suggesting Americans should have a “national dialogue on removing George Washington statues,” Duckworth quickly fired back on Twitter.
“Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?” Duckworth, who lost both legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in the Iraq War, replied on Monday night.
The Fox News host not only doubled down on his attack the following evening, but ramped it up, describing the Illinois senator as a “moron” and “coward” while questioning whether she should be described as a hero. He also downplayed her military service and loss of limbs, saying she “questioned our right to criticize her at all since she was once injured while serving in the Illinois National Guard.”
Noting that Carlson has “never served himself,” Keilar—whose husband is in the military—wondered aloud on her Wednesday afternoon broadcast why Carlson thought it was a “good strategy” to attack a war hero, comparing Carlson’s actions to President Donald Trump’s feud with John McCain.
“When did conservatives start questioning the patriotism of someone who lost their limbs in service of the United States?” Keilar added. “Because they disagree on an issue?”
The CNN anchor went on to highlight how Carlson dog-whistled to his audience by placing Duckworth’s photo next to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who she pointed out has become “an effective boogeyman” for Republicans.
“He says you can’t disagree with Tammy Duckworth. You can! And he can and he should if he dissents with her,” she concluded. “Disagreement is American. That’s what members of the military serve for. They’ll tell you over and over that they’re there to protect American freedoms. But maybe Tucker Carlson doesn’t know that because a war of words is the only place that he will ever wage battle.”
Later in the evening, Keilar would share the clip on Twitter, throwing the top-rated Fox News star’s insults back at him.
“Tucker Carlson complains ‘You’re not supposed to criticize Tammy Duckworth in any way because she once served in the military,’” she tweeted. “You can criticize her all you want, @TuckerCarlson, but questioning the patriotism of a decorated combat vet makes you the moron.”
Keilar wasn’t the only CNN host to blast Carlson over his attacks on the potential vice-presidential candidate. In a searing commentary on Wednesday morning, CNN senior political analyst (and former Daily Beast editor-in-chief) John Avlon said “calling your opponents unpatriotic” is the definition of “unpatriotic.”
“She became director of the Illinois V.A. — the same year that Tucker Carlson was on Dancing With the Stars,” Avlon noted at one point while comparing Duckworth’s accomplishments with Carlson’s resume.
“He did this allegedly to defend George Washington—whose statues Duckworth never said should be taken down,” he concluded. “And, for what it’s worth, I don’t think they should be. But he might want to refer back to Washington’s warning that we should ‘guard against the impostors of pretended patriotism.’ Some folks fearmonger when they don’t have the facts on their side.”
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, meanwhile, also brought up Carlson’s lack of service, saying he’s decided the senator “despises America” while highlighting Duckworth’s military experience and civil service.
“She has spent every single day since that accident in the continued service of the country in the Army National Guard, in the VA, and in the Senate,” she added. “For the country, a certain television critic has never risked life or limb to defend.”