In the Columbus Dispatch, JoAnne Viviano writes that Tucker Carlson, the host of “Fox News and Friends Weekend” offered a sincere on-air apology to members of the Wiccan community on Feb. 23. Carlson offered his apology for having had deeply offended Wiccans in a show the weekend prior where he and his co-hosts, Anna Kooiman and Clayton Morris, were discussing the inclusion of Wiccan holidays in the University of Missouri’s "Guide to Religions: Major Holidays and Suggested Accommodations."
Last weekend, Carlson ridiculed the number of holidays Wiccans have and suggested that he could not take a religion that counts Halloween as a holiday seriously. His initial remarks also suggested that every Wiccan he has ever known is either “a compulsive Dungeons & Dragons player or is a middle-aged, twice-divorced, older woman living in a rural area who works as a midwife.”
Carlson’s comments created quite the stir in the Pagan community, with many Wiccans signing petitions demanding an apology from the “Fox News and Friends Weekend” host. The petition on Causes.com demanding an apology from the show hosts received 34,913 signatures. Another petition on Change.org resulted in 7,259 signatures.
Some Wiccans were also calling into Fox News placing complaints and others were putting up video responses on Youtube. Several Facebook pages were created demanding an apology from the show hosts and respect for Pagans.
Carlson’s on-air apology follows another apology he shared on Twitter on Feb. 19 where he writes: “To Wiccans and pagans: Sorry for my pointlessly nasty remarks. Your holidays still confuse me, but you seem like nice people.” Some Pagans questioned how Carlson could be confused about Wiccan holidays, especially when the University of Missouri’s guide describes each the eight sabbats clearly. Others were calling the apology backhanded and insincere.
In a Feb. 19 interview with Betsy Rothstein on FishbowlDC Carlson also apologized by saying:
“I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter, so I’m not sure of the dimensions of it, but I’m pretty sure that I’m unpopular in the witchcraft community, and I understand why … I probably was unduly harsh. As far as I know, most Wiccans are peaceful taxpayers. I’ve never been mugged by one anyway. So I apologize for hurting anyone’s feelings.”
Even with both apologies in print, many people in the Pagan community questioned the sincerity of Carlson’s apologies and criticized the fact that Carlson did not offer the apology using the same platform that he used when initially offending the Wiccan community.
Viviano also explains that the executive vice president of Fox News programming, Bill Shine, had promised on Thursday the issue would be taken seriously and that it would be addressed on this morning’s episode of “Fox News and Friends Weekend.” It was about 30 minutes into the show airing on Feb. 23 when Carlson said that he was truly sorry for having offended Wiccans. He also said:
"I violated one of my basic life rules, which is 'live and let live … The Wiccans have never bothered me or tried to control my life. I should have left them alone. Sorry about that.”
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