Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson called U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, “Eye-Patch McCain” during a May 16, 2022, broadcast of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."
A former Navy SEAL, Crenshaw now wears an eye patch after suffering an injury while on tour in Afghanistan. The jab also referred to late Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for more than five years.
We watched the 41-minute show. About halfway through the airing during a segment discussing U.S. lawmakers traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine, Carlson asked the audience to consider why the U.S. was concerned with the war in Ukraine when Americans were facing a baby food shortage and increasing gas prices at home. The broadcast panned to another interview earlier in the day when Crenshaw told Fox News personality and former American politician Trey Gowdy that offering financial support to Ukraine was irrelevant to the U.S. baby formula shortage and was not a funding issue but one rooted in manufacturing problems with the formula. (We also fact-checked that claim here.)
“According to congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas, asking questions like that — or really any questions at all, thinking you’re a citizen — makes you, quote, pro-Russia,” said Carlson. Frequent guest Tulsi Gabbard, former Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii, then joined Carlson on screen in a discussion about the potential of nuclear conflict with Russia.
Just after the 24-minute mark, Carlson said:
You know, the more I think about it, it takes a lot of gall for eye-patch McCain to attack moms who are worried about baby formula as quote, pro-Russia. I mean, that’s probably, that’s one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever heard now that I’m thinking about it. I mean, why not just answer the question — why the attacks? What does that tell you?
Carlson was referencing a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine that was approved by the U.S. House on May 10. If passed by the Senate, the legislation would bring the total amount of support to nearly $54 billion, including the $13.6 billion enacted in March, reported The Associated Press. (That bill can be read in its entirety at Congress.gov.)
Crenshaw has previously said that he is “very self-conscious” about the glass eye that he wears after being injured in combat, reported The Hill in 2018. His right eye was destroyed after he was hit by an IED blast during his third deployment while in Afghanistan in 2012, according to his Congressional website.
As some social media users pointed out, the comment was a pivot from some of Fox News’ previous coverage of Crenshaw, in which the network offered the Republican airtime following a controversial “Saturday Night Live” skit in 2018 that involved comedian Pete Davidson also making fun of the congressman.
“This guy is kinda cool, Dan Crenshaw,” Davidson said on the show, next to a photo of Crenshaw, a Republican. “You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas, and not a hit man in a porno movie.” The comments poking fun at the veteran drew backlash.
During a Nov. 5, 2018, airing of "Fox & Friends," the hosts interviewed the then-GOP congressional candidate while a number of outlets, including CNN and "Good Morning America," covered Davidson’s joke. At the time, Carlson was also vocal about the disrespect presented during the SNL skit, with Yahoo News reporting that alongside air graphics that read “NO RESPECT” and “SNL Sinks to New Low by Insulting Wounded Veteran,” Carlson said the following:
Well, for the past two years, the Democratic Party has outsourced much of its political philosophy to the late-night TV shows. They pay attention to Saturday Night Live. It’s not as funny as it used to be but it tells you a lot about what the left believes.
Less than a week later, Davidson apologized for his words during the SNL Weekend Update sketch.
“I mean this is from the bottom of my heart, it was a poor choice of words. The man was a war hero, and he deserves all the respect in the world. If any good came of this, maybe it was for one day the left and the right finally came together to agree on something. That I’m a dick,” said the comedian.
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