In a striking display of solidarity, members of the U.S. military condemned Fox News host Tucker Carlson for his remarks criticizing the government's efforts to retain women in uniform, including those who are pregnant.
During his primetime cable news show Tuesday, Carlson criticized President Biden for making the military “more feminine.”
“While China’s military becomes more masculine as it has assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine,” Carlson said. “So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits. Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.”
The segment triggered a remarkable public backlash from top military officials, many of them men.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston was among those who responded directly to Carlson through social media.
“Women lead our most lethal units with character. They will dominate ANY future battlefield we’re called to fight on,” Grinston wrote on Twitter. “@TuckerCarlson’s words are divisive, don’t reflect our values.”
A representative for Fox News did not immediately return a request for comment.
“Thousands of women serve honorably every day around the globe,” tweeted Gen. Paul Funk, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. “They are beacons of freedom and they prove Carlson wrong through determination and dedication. We are fortunate they serve with us.”
Sgt. Scott Stalker, the senior enlisted leader at the U.S. Space Command, posted a video to Twitter in which he called Carlson’s show “drama TV,” and said he wanted to remind everyone that Carlson’s opinion was “based off of actually zero days of service in the armed forces.”
Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe tweeted a video of himself conducting a reenlistment for “one of the tens of thousands of women who serve in our Army.”
“Just a reminder that @TuckerCarlson couldn’t be more wrong,” Donahoe tweeted.
“Mothers in uniform fight & win our nation’s wars,” John B. Richardson IV, deputy commanding general at Fort Hood, the Army base in Texas, wrote on Twitter. “Fathers in uniform fight & win our nation’s wars. Soldier is not a gendered noun.”
The official U.S. Army Twitter feed appeared to take a subtle swipe at Carlson.
Other rank-and-file members, including enlisted mothers, were not so subtle.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel, also pulled no punches.
Carlson’s sexist comments even drew the ire of the Pentagon.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Thursday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shared the same “revulsion” that many military leaders had expressed.
Women make up about 16 percent of the U.S. military — a percentage that the Pentagon wants to see increase.
Kirby acknowledged that the military still has a lot of work to do to become “more inclusive, more respectful of everyone — especially women.”
“We pledge to do better, and we will,” he added. “What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host.”
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