Fox News host Tucker Carlson kicked off his broadcast Wednesday night by calling Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) a modern-day Robert Byrd, suggesting the Illinois senator’s call for more diversity in the Biden administration was akin to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Earlier this week, and following the mass shooting in Atlanta that left six Asian women dead, Duckworth and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)—both women of Asian American Pacific Islander descent—threatened to vote against any of President Joe Biden’s nominees who aren’t minorities. Duckworth, specifically, said she was angry that the White House had brushed off her concerns that Biden’s Cabinet lacked any Asian American representation.
While both Hirono and Duckworth have since backed off their ultimatum after the White House pledged to add a senior AAPI staffer, Carlson claimed that the two Democratic senators had “opposed the entire foundation of American civil rights law and then proceeded to attack the core principle—the main principle of our country.”
After grumbling that the back-and-forth between the senators and White House didn’t get enough media attention, the Fox News star—who Fox lawyers have successfully argued shouldn’t be taken seriously—then took pointed and personal shots at both lawmakers’ intelligence.
“Here you have two actual U.S. senators announcing in public they will deny jobs to people who have the wrong skin color. That’s not news? Oh, yes, it is news,” he snarked. “Though Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth may not realize it’s news.”
The conservative host added: “In their defense, Hirono and Duckworth are well-known as the dimmest politicians in Washington. Neither one can carry a dinner conversation.”
(Carlson has relentlessly insulted and attacked Duckworth over the past year, once calling the Purple Heart recipient who lost limbs in the Iraq War a “coward” and a “fraud.” As for Hirono, he has previously said she’s “probably the single slowest person ever to serve in the U.S. Senate.”)
He later claimed that Hirono and Duckworth violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with their temporary threat not to vote for presidential nominees before going on a tangent about the Ku Klux Klan and the Democratic Party of the pre-Civil Rights era.
“The Civil Rights Act may be the most famous law that we have. But then, as now, many prominent Democrats opposed it,” Carlson declared. “Critical race theory is not a new idea, despite what they tell you. In 1964, a third of Senate Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act. And one of those who did was a man called Robert Byrd. Byrd was a strident supporter of racial equity, or as it was called at the time, Jim Crow.”
Noting that Byrd was at one time a KKK leader—Byrd would later call joining the Klan the “greatest mistake I ever made” and was eventually praised by the NAACP—Carlson then directly compared Duckworth to Byrd’s time as a klansman.
“Robert Byrd was the Tammy Duckworth of his day,” he sneered while reciting Byrd’s old writings while a member of the Klan.
“At the time he did write it, Byrd was working as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan,” the Fox host added. “Very much the Yale University of the time. The source of so much poison in our society.”
Carlson, who has repeatedly downplayed the existence of white supremacy and labeled it a “hoax,” continued to tie the Democratic Party to the KKK by pointing out that Byrd “abandoned his Klan career—it never paid well” and “decided to run for office as a Democrat.”