If there's any doubt that the host of Tucker Carlson Tonight “doesn't take prisoners” when interviewing liberal guests during his weeknight Fox News Channel program, his volatile exchange on Thursday with Zac Petkanas, a senior advisor for the Democratic National Committee, should have settled that question for good.
The topic was gender identity, and Petkanas had slammed President Donald Trump and his administration as “monsters” in a tweet earlier that day for removing a policy administered by his predecessor one year ago regarding transgender children. In response, Carlson countered that people “get to decide your gender with no biological anchor to sex anymore.”
The host began the segment by stating:
Well, last May the Obama administration announced a new rule requiring every school in the country to let transgender students use whichever bathroom or locker room matched their preferred gender identity.
Yesterday, the Trump administration retracted that rule, saying that bathroom policies like these are state issues and shouldn't be set by decrees of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
After introducing Petkanas, Carlson read the tweet in which the leader in the Democrats' “Trump War Room” said: “I woke up feeling so sick to my stomach about the Trump White House attacks on vulnerable LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) kids. These people are monsters.”
“I think there are two sides to every debate, including this one,” the host stated. “And I thought to myself: Was Obama attacking LGBT kids a year ago, before putting this policy in place? He spent seven years as president and didn't do this. Was he a monster attacking LGBT kids during that time?”
Petkanas noted: “This is guidance to schools that schools wanted and asked for with a very specific reason: They wanted to create a safe environment for all the kids in their school and they wanted to avoid Title IX lawsuits. That's what's so mind-boggling about what the Trump administration did.”
The guest then stated: “I'm giving Obama extraordinary praise for taking decisive action to protect these vulnerable kids, and I am saying that not only is Donald Trump a monster, but he's also a coward.”
“This policy has implications that go farther than bathrooms and locker rooms,” Carlson noted. “The core question is what constitutes male and female. You get to decide your gender with no biological anchor to sex anymore.”
“One gender identity is enough to show what gender they are,” the guest replied, “and I leave that to your level of enlightenment.”
Carlson then asked: “You're telling me I can play on a women's sports team when I say I'm a woman?”
“It's not a real question because it's pretty absurd,” Petkanas responded since “there are no examples of this.”
The host pressed on: “Is there a scientific standard as you deal with questions of biology? I'm a scientist and I don't know whether you're a man or a woman. How do I find out?”
“These are discussions I encourage you to have with someone who is transgender that can come and talk with you about that,” Petkanas said while dodging Carlson's question.
Eventually, the guest conceded: “Your gender identity determines your gender, period. This is a matter of civil rights.”
“Is there science behind this?” Carlson asked. “I want you to name a single scientist -- just one -- who says you can determine your own sex by saying so.”
“You clearly have some issues around this,” the guest asserted.
“I don't have issues with this,” the host responded. “I'm asking you questions you can't answer, and you instead throwing things like 'You're not enlightened.' Why are you deflecting my questions?”
“This is a matter of settled science,” Petkanas stated.
“What is the science, exactly?” Carlson asked. “That you are what you say you are? That I can change my gender If that's the case, can I change my race, too?”
“You, you cannot change your race,” the rattled guest noted.
“Why can I change my gender but not my race?” the host pressed. “What's the difference?”
“It's about who people inherently are,” Petkanas replied. “Again, you're getting into a silly hypothetical. We've had protection for transgender people for years. If you want to go into this right-wing pseudo-science … .”
“It's not right-wing at all,” Carlson stated before making the following challenge:
I will give you $1,000 if you can find any scientist, like an actual biologist, at an accredited college who'll come on this show and say: “Here's the science."
“Why shouldn't schools who are asking for it get guidance on how to create a safe environment for all their kids?” the liberal guest inquired.
“I would say that such guidance exists,” Carlson noted. “It floats on the Internet, and if it's merely guidance, then the federal government needs no more to do with it.”
Carlson's interview was a textbook example of how conservative hosts should deal with guests whose beliefs are based on emotion and not science. It's doubtful that Petkanas will ever appear on that program again.