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Tucker Carlson to Take ‘Long-Planned’ Vacation After Blake Neff’s Resignation


The Fox News star Tucker Carlson said on Monday evening that he would leave on a vacation, starting immediately, days after a writer on his program, Blake Neff, resigned over racist, sexist and misogynist messages that Mr. Neff published pseudonymously on an online message board.

Mr. Carlson told viewers that he would return to his show next week and described the vacation as “long planned,” suggesting that his time off had been set before Mr. Neff was revealed on Friday as the author of the offensive posts.

It was not the first time that Mr. Carlson has announced that he would take a break from the anchor chair in the immediate aftermath of a sensitive moment for his prime-time program. Last August, Mr. Carlson went on vacation two days after he likened white supremacy to a “hoax,” saying it was “actually not a real problem in America,” remarks that prompted some advertisers to distance themselves from his show.

In response to an inquiry on Monday, Fox News said that Mr. Carlson’s vacation was “preplanned.”

Mr. Neff, who had written for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” since 2017, resigned last week after Fox News learned of his activity on AutoAdmit, an online forum popular with law students. There, Mr. Neff had written messages that denigrated African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women. Fox News’s top executives condemned Mr. Neff’s conduct as “abhorrent” in a memo to staff and said the show had not previously been aware of his writings.

Mr. Carlson addressed the controversy for the first time on his Monday broadcast.

“What Blake wrote anonymously was wrong,” the host told viewers. “We don’t endorse those words. They have no connection to the show. It is wrong to attack people for qualities they cannot control.” He also described Mr. Neff as “horrified” and “ashamed” by the revelation of his online writings, which were first reported by CNN.

Mr. Carlson, who has used his platform to denounce a so-called cancel culture that he says stymies free speech, appended a somewhat defiant note. He said that Mr. Neff “has paid a very heavy price” for his behavior, “but we should also point out to the ghouls now beating their chests in triumph at the destruction of a young man, that self-righteousness also has its costs.”

“We are all human,” Mr. Carlson continued. “When we pretend we are holy, we are lying. When we pose as blameless in order to hurt other people, we are committing the gravest sin of all, and we will be punished for it, there’s no question.”

Mr. Carlson is a top ratings draw on Fox News, and his program’s viewership has soared in recent months as he has adopted a sharply critical line against national demonstrations over racial injustice and policing. The host has lamented the outbreak of violence in major cities and been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last week, before Mr. Neff’s online posts were revealed, Mr. Carlson was already facing criticism after he questioned the patriotism of Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a Democrat who lost her legs fighting in Iraq. He called the senator a “moron” after Ms. Duckworth said she was open to arguments for removing statues of George Washington because he owned slaves.

On Monday, Mr. Carlson did not appear fazed by the various controversies surrounding “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” He began with a segment criticizing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and then interviewed Mark T. McCloskey, the lawyer who, along with his wife, brandished a handgun and a semiautomatic rifle at peaceful Black protesters in St. Louis last month.

The impact of the outside criticism seemed more pronounced during the commercial breaks. Many large sponsors have removed their ads from Mr. Carlson’s program in recent weeks, and his most prolific advertiser on Monday was MyPillow, the pro-Trump bedding company.

At the end of the broadcast, Mr. Carlson told viewers that he planned to “spend the next four days trout fishing.”

“This is one of those years where if you don’t get it in now, you’re probably not going to,” the host told viewers, noting that Brian Kilmeade, a co-host of “Fox & Friends,” would sit in for him. (Mr. Carlson is an avid fisherman: When he went on vacation last August, he told viewers he planned to “catch some brook trout.”)

“If something dramatic happens, of course, we’ll be back,” Mr. Carlson added. “In the meantime, we hope you have the best and happiest week, and we’ll be back on Monday, if not before.”

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