Jack P. Carroll ’24
Trinity Alum and Fox News television host Tucker Carlson ‘91 has recently faced public criticism after a screenshot of his Trinity College yearbook photo went viral on social media earlier this week.
The controversy began on the morning of Wednesday, Apr. 21, after journalist Travis Akers tweeted an image of Carlson’s 1991 yearbook portrait with the caption, “Perhaps this is the story that @TuckerCarlson was trying to get ahead of.” Aker noted that, “In his college yearbook, he listed himself as a member of the ‘Dan White Society.’ Dan White was the man who murdered Harvey Milk.”
Akers’ tweet appears to have been alluding to a Tuesday, Apr. 20, episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight in which Carlson spoke out against Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple stating that “Jeff Bezos (owner of the Washington Post) had one of his minions, a mentally unbalanced middle-aged man called Erik Wemple, pull out our dusty college yearbook and call around and see if we’d done anything naughty at the age of 19….Let us know if you hear any good stories.” Also, in the same clip, Carlson indicated that he had been in contact with “quite a few old college classmates, in some cases people we’ve been out of touch with for thirty years” since Wemple had been reaching out to them.
Shortly after his tweet went viral, many public figures joined Aker in accusing Carlson of paying tribute to the American politician Dan White who served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978. During that same year, White shot and killed two people including his fellow supervisor Harvey Milk who was the first openly gay politician to be elected in the state of California. In a controversial 1979 court verdict, White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter (for which he served a five-year prison sentence) as opposed to first-degree murder in the deaths of Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
Responding to Akers’ tweet, the conservative political action committee formed in 2019 to prevent the re-election of former President Donald Trump The Lincoln Project commented “Oh Tucker…..”
In a reply to The Lincoln Project, Carl M. Loeb Professor, Emeritus at Harvard Law School Lawrence Tribes tweeted “So grim. Here’s #TuckerCarlson basically celebrating the homophobic murder of San Francisco Board of Supervisors #HarveyMilk just for being gay and proud of it back in the day.” Tribes added that, “Poor Harvey is dead, while evil Tucker is still spewing hate and fomenting hateful violence.”
Retweeting Tribes’ post, former Secretary of the U.S. Navy under the Obama administration Ray Maybus noted that “#HarveyMilk was a Navy diver (1 of toughest there is) who was kicked out for being openly gay. Made our Navy weaker. I named a ship after #HarveyMilk bec/ he represented our values & he served. Still trying to learn which branch #TuckerCarlson served in.”
A representative for Trinity College reportedly confirmed the veracity of Carlson’s yearbook photo to TheWrap after a screenshot of it went viral on Twitter. Also, the same article reported that a Trinity spokesperson told TheWrap that the Dan White Society did not appear to exist at the College, and that the society was only referenced in Carlson’s yearbook caption. After reviewing the yearbook, TheWrap claimed that it found no other references to the Dan White Society. The Tripod was also unable to find additional references.
Carlson’s yearbook reference to the “Jesse Helms Foundation” has also been under scrutiny as well. On its website, the Helms Center Foundation claims that the organization aspires to be “one of our nation’s leading advocates of free enterprise and traditional American values through education, public policy promotion and historical preservation.” However, when reporting on Carlson’s yearbook photo, many sources have reported that Senator Jesse Helms (to whom the center is dedicated) opposed homosexuality, AIDS funding, civil rights, and abortion during his career as a politician.
As of Sunday, Apr. 25, Carlson had not responded directly to the veracity of the accusations or the positions they asserted.