In a confrontation that swiftly went viral, a Montana man told Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “You are the worst human being known to mankind.”
The man, identified on Instagram as Dan Bailey, posted the video of the encounter in a sporting goods store on 23 July.
He wrote: “It’s not every day you get to tell someone they are the worst person in the world and really mean it! What an asshole!”
Carlson’s response is difficult to hear in the 22-second video but he appears to be trying, politely, to stop the man talking. At one point he smiles at the camera. He also attempts to continue browsing goods.
Fox News’s most-watched host, a key influence on rightwing politics and invective, has recently come under fire for questioning vaccines against Covid-19 while refusing to say if he has had one, and for stoking racial division.
He has also been the subject of a widely read New York Times column (“Tucker Carlson Calls Journalists ‘Animals.’ He’s Also Their Best Source”) and a Washington Post profile (“How Tucker Carlson became the voice of white grievance”).
The profile detailed how Carlson ridiculed his first-grade teacher in a book – and reported her shock on finding out.
Comments on Bailey’s Instagram post were mostly appreciative, including clapping hand and beer emojis and sentiments including “American hero!!” and “Thank you!!”
His earlier posts included photos of a dog, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
The confrontation with Carlson occurred at Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Co in Livingston, Montana, near Yellowstone National Park. The store said it was a coincidence the man who confronted Carlson also appeared to be named Dan Bailey. He was not affiliated with the store, it said.
“To be clear, we treat every customer equally and respectfully,” the store said. “Our staff was professional and cordial to Mr Carlson, as we are with all of our customers.”
It is not the first time criticism of Carlson has gone viral.
In 2004 the comedian Jon Stewart went on Crossfire, a CNN show Carlson co-hosted with Paul Begala, a Democratic political consultant. Stewart accused the pair of “hurting America” because their show posed as political debate but was really news-themed entertainment.
Stewart’s exchange with Carlson was particularly heated.
Carlson said: “I do think you’re more fun on your show. Just my opinion.”
Stewart responded: “You know what’s interesting, though? You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”