Tucker Carlson Finds Tammy Duckworth ‘Unimpressive.’ So Who Does He Find ‘Impressive’?
The Fox host finds a woman who lost both legs in combat to be “deeply unimpressive”—an insult he uses often. So then who does he actually find impressive? Let’s find out.
Nearly all of the attention is focused on Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson calling Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth—an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat—a “coward” and a “fraud” who “hates America,” but don’t forget: He also called her an “unimpressive person.”
If you have the unfortunate brain rot that comes with working in, regularly covering, or watching cable news, then you likely recognize “unimpressive” as one of the insults most frequently deployed by Carlson in his nightly unhinged-paleoconservatism-but-with-boyish-charm diatribes.
A common setup during Carlson’s rants about various Fox News bogeymen and women—Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Biden, James Comey, various CNN anchors, take a guess and you’re probably right—is to tell viewers that they are “expected” to find this villain “impressive” but, Carlson assures you, they are “not impressive.” The barb is sometimes airdropped, almost like a tic, into the middle of sentences (“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer—not impressive—has imposed…”).
Immigrants, whom Carlson has made a career of terrifying the Fox audience over, are frequently divided into two camps: those who “impress” Tucker Carlson and those who are “unimpressive.” Pro-immigration activists, the Fox host repeatedly tells his audience, will “lecture” you that all immigrants “are so much more impressive than you are,” but, alas, Carlson sneers, many are not.
Schools (Northwestern University), generalized groups (“the ruling class,” “U.S. intel agencies,” “college administrators,” a nebulous “they” after a long, labyrinthian tirade that only loosely identifies some possible targets), and newspapers (The New York Times) have also been “unimpressive” to King Tucker, the prep-school educated son of a former media executive and a frozen-dinner fortune heiress. Some people are categorized with a damning modifier: “Formerly impressive.”
In fact, the act of being “unimpressive” in Tucker Carlson’s eyes is so often used as an insult that it’s safe to assume that somewhere in the Fox star’s life someone told him he was “not impressive” and it was the most withering critique he’d ever heard.
But the perennial cable-news star has never given any standard of what actually constitutes impressiveness or who the people he finds so deeply unimpressive are actually supposed to impress.
And so one can’t help but wonder: Who or what does the perpetually unimpressed Tucker Carlson actually find impressive?
Oftentimes Carlson finds people “impressive” as a form of mockery, usually delivered with his trademark shit-eating grin—snarking that Michael Bloomberg is just “so impressive,” or deadpanning that Chelsea Clinton is “more impressive than you are” for having attended Stanford. And, of course, there was the time in 2017 when he trollishly joked that Trump staring at the solar eclipse without protective eyewear was “perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.”
But believe it or not, some animals, places, and people not named Tammy Duckworth have managed to impress him. Based on a review of his show’s transcripts, here are the many things that Tucker Carlson has declared “impressive,” broken down and categorized into a guide for how you, too, could one day impress him.
The least surprising way to impress Tucker Carlson is to be his friend or ideological ally:
- Rush Limbaugh.
- Mike Lindell, the MyPillow guy and pretty much the only remaining advertiser on Carlson’s show.
- Peter Thiel.
- Brett Kavanaugh.
- Ryan Cleckner, a columnist for The Federalist.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
- Michigan GOP Senate candidate John James.
- Mike Rowe, the Dirty Jobs guy and frequent Fox News guest.
- Charles Krauthammer, the late conservative commentator.
- Harry Kazianis, head of the Council for the National Interest, an anti-Zionist foreign-policy advocacy group.
- Daniel Turner, head of a dark money anti-environmentalist group called Power the Future.
- Ret. Gen. John Kelly (in June 2018; no word on how Carlson feels about him now that Trump hates him).
- The Harvard Law School Class of 1991, which included Justice Neil Gorsuch.
- Ryan Wolfe, a conservative Wake Forest University student who said he was harassed at school for his views.
- Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, for organizing “the largest conservative rally in the history of Portland” in 2017 (Gibson and some other far-right activists were charged last year in a violent altercation outside a cidery).
You can also impress Tucker Carlson by being a Fox News colleague who does something neat:
- Fox anchor Bret Baier, for writing a book about Reagan’s 1988 speech at Moscow State University.
- Dion Baia, a Fox News audio technician, for writing a detective novel.
- Fox reporter Mike Tobin, for hiking to the summit of Mount Aconcagua.
- Now-former Fox host Ed Henry’s mom, for being a good cook.
You could even be a political foe who does something Tucker Carlson finds impressive but, in the end, his admiration feels more like the setup for an insult:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, an “impressive person,” to be sure, but also “wrong.”
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for being “bold” against the Democratic establishment (but elsewhere, he says, “she’s not impressive, she’s awful”).
- Elizabeth Warren’s 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap, “was impressive,” he admits, but she got “infected with a virulent strain of identity politics” and “like tertiary syphilis, it drove her insane.”
- Nancy Pelosi, for managing “to hold Democrats together for the health-care vote.”
- Vladimir Putin, for “playing ice hockey at whatever age he is.”
- Hartford’s Mayor Luke Bronin, who, according to Carlson, “seems” to suck less than the usual Democratic mayors.
- Madeleine Albright, “impressive” by being a “great bureaucrat.”
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s “speaking Norwegian and playing piano.”
- Ronan Farrow’s act of taking his Harvey Weinstein reporting away from liberal NBC.
- David Campos, a Santa Clara County official, who Carlson notes is among the “impressive” immigrants.
Or you could be a collection of people or a species that does something that manages to impress him:
- Iran, “in some ways,” because it is sophisticated, unlike “the chintzy prefab capitals of the Arab world like Riyadh or Dubai.”
- The state of New Hampshire, for its high SAT scores and low crime rate.
- The American cigar industry, “which is vibrant and impressive.”
- The U.S. women’s national soccer team’s record-setting 13-0 victory over Thailand.
- Raccoons, “one of the most impressive and underrated animals.”
- Dandelions, for being a completely edible superfood, from flower to root.
But it seems there is only one surefire method to achieve instant “impressive” status in the eyes of Tucker Carlson. You must be a Fox News star who is good at trivia:
- Fox host Greg Gutfeld, for handily defeating Jesse Watters in one of Carlson’s goofy trivia segments.
- Fox host Lou Dobbs, for correctly answering which NFL jersey Garth Brooks fans mistook for a liberal political endorsement by the country singer.
- Fox host Jesse Watters, on several nights, for winning multiple trivia segments.
- Fox host Kennedy, for beating colleague Janice Dean in a trivia segment.
- Sean Spicer, for correctly answering what title Gov. Gavin Newsom bestows upon his spouse instead of “first wife.”
- Fox host Carley Shimkus, for correctly answering the limit to how many kids Prince Harry plans to have.
- Fox anchor Martha MacCallum, for correctly answering what type of food the Biden campaign spent more than $12,000 on.
- Fox correspondent Lauren Blanchard, for correctly naming the dog that won the 2019 Westminster Dog Show.
- Fox reporter Mike Emanuel, for correctly answering how many hot dogs Joey Chestnut ate in the 2018 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.