Carlson has risen to fame thanks to his undeniable knack for getting under the skin of liberals and progressives. So left-leaning pundits were probably only too happy to see Carlson him owned by one of their peers this week, when Dutch historian Rutger Bregman shared a covertly recorded version his unaired interview with the cantankerous conservative.
The chat started off well for Carlson, who was delighted to hear Bregman criticize the billionaires who traveled to Davos in fuel-guzzling private planes and then complained about climate change. They should have instead discussed the problem with tax avoidance, said Bregman, who believes all of them were guilty of hiding their wealth from the taxman.
Attacking the credibility of progressives who believe in climate change was music to Carlson's ears. But the budding bromance soon blew up in Carlson's face when Bregman turned the discussion of tax avoidance on the people who sign the Fox host's checks.
"You are a millionaire funded by billionaires—that's what you are," Bregman said. "And I'm glad you now finally jumped on the bandwagon of people like Bernie Sanders and AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], but you're not part of the solution, Mr. Carlson. You're part of the problem, actually."
And that sparked Carlson's profanity-laced rant against Bregman, which Fox decided not to air since it definitely did not present their pundit at his best. Luckily, Bregman recorded the chat and shared it online for all the internet to enjoy.
The clip quickly went viral, prompting Carlson to respond to the controversy on his show, disputing Bregman's claim that Carlson's bosses tell him what position to take on his show, calling the accusation "too much".
"I did what I try never to do on this show, and I was rude," said Carlson, by way of half-hearted explanation. "I called him a moron, then I modified that word with a vulgar, Anglo-Saxon term which is also intelligible in Dutch."
"In my defence, I would say that that was entirely accurate, but you're not allowed to use that word on television," he added.
Admitting the fault in his language was the only apology Carlson made for his behaviour during the segment, but even that he amended, saying, "on the other hand, it was genuinely heartfelt, and I meant it with total sincerity."
The network continues to publicly support Carlson amid the controversy. In an email to The Washington Post, Senior Executive Producer of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Justin Wells wrote that Bregman "turned an opportunity to have a substantive, informative discussion into an obviously calculated personal insult campaign."
As for Bregman, the historian wrote on twitter that the "one thing" that he regretted about the interview was not taking the opportunity to quote famed linguist Noam Chomsky.
You can watch Bregman's recording of the freakout above, and below, Tucker Carlson's full response from last night's show.