The Department of Defense published a post on Thursday rebuking Fox News host Tucker Carlson for mocking women in the U.S. military, noting that Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby “smites” the “talk show host” for dissing the military’s diversity.
“What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host or the Chinese military,” Kirby, a former CNN contributor, said in a news briefing on Thursday. “Maybe those folks feel like they have something to prove — that’s on them. We know we’re the greatest military in the world today and even for all the things we need to improve, we know exactly why that’s so.”
Kirby’s remarks, and the Pentagon’s unprecedented full-fledged assault on the Fox News star, come on the heels of top military brass’ blistering criticism of the top-rated primetime cable news host.
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carlson, however, took to his Twitter account to announce he would respond to the military on his Thursday night show.
“This afternoon, the Department of Defense issued a press release attacking this show: ‘Press secretary smites Fox Host.’ Like we’re a hostile foreign power. Remarkable,” the Fox star tweeted on Thursday afternoon.
The U.S. Army’s official Twitter account defended its female soldiers on Thursday in what appeared to be a response to Carlson ridiculing pregnant service members, whom he labeled a “mockery of the U.S. military.”
“I am an American Soldier. I am a Warrior and a member of a team,” the Army tweeted on Thursday morning, alongside a picture of a woman service member saluting.
During his Tuesday night primetime broadcast, Carlson scoffed at President Joe Biden’s International Women's Day acknowledgment that the military has created uniforms that fit women properly along with flight suits for pregnant women.
“So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits,” the Fox star seethed. “Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.”
He continued: “While China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine, whatever feminine means anymore since men and women no longer exist. The bottom line is it’s out of control, and the Pentagon is going along with this.”
Carlson’s remarks immediately sparked intense backlash from senior members of the military, who said that the conservative cable news host “couldn’t be more wrong” in his assessment.
“Women lead our most lethal units with character. They will dominate ANY future battlefield we’re called to fight on,” Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston tweeted on Wednesday night. “@TuckerCarlson's words are divisive, don't reflect our values. We have THE MOST professional, educated, agile, and strongest NCO Corps in the world.”
Fort Hood Deputy Commanding General John B. Richardson IV added on Thursday morning: “Mothers in uniform fight & win our nation's wars. Fathers in uniform fight & win our nation's wars. Soldier is not a gendered noun.”
And even the Canadian military appeared to get in on the action, tweeting Wednesday in response to Carlson: “*tightens ponytail*.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a Purple Heart recipient who lost limbs in the Iraq War, trolled the Fox News host over his Dancing With the Stars appearance. (Last year, Carlson engaged in a multi-day tirade against the veteran, calling her a “coward” at one point.)
“F*ck Tucker Carlson. While he was practicing his two-step, America’s female warriors were hunting down Al Qaeda and proving the strength of America’s women,” she posted on Twitter. “Happy belated International Women’s Day to everyone but Tucker, who even I can dance better than.”
Notably, Fox News is an extremely popular channel among the rank-and-file of the armed services, as the conservative-leaning network has long catered to military personnel, and bases and dining facilities tend to air the network live all day.