Fox News host Tucker Carlson did indeed list membership in groups called the Dan White Society and the Jesse Helms Foundation in his college yearbook, officials with the school have confirmed.
An image began circulating on Twitter Wednesday of a page from Carlson’s senior yearbook from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. As a 22-year-old in 1991, Carlson listed the two groups among his extracurricular activities — one named for the San Francisco politician who killed gay S.F. Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1978, the other for the virulently homophobic U.S. senator from North Carolina.
A spokesperson for Trinity College confirmed to The Wrap that the image is authentic, noting that a digitized version of the yearbook is online. The college representative said they couldn’t ascertain whether Carlson asked to have the organizations listed or if someone else put them in. There is no mention of the Dan White Society elsewhere in the yearbook, so it may not have been a real organization, or at least not a school-sanctioned one.
There is an organization based in North Carolina called the Jesse Helms Center, which describes itself as “a non-profit, non-political foundation which provides quality educational lectures, training schools and events focused on the principles of our founding fathers, traditional American values and the causes which United States Senator Jesse Helms championed throughout his 30-year career.”
Helms, who died in 2008, was known for his staunch opposition to LGBTQ+ rights and funding to combat AIDS. He sought to block funding for AIDS education and the work of gay artists, was responsible for a long-standing policy against admitting HIV-positive immigrants and foreign visitors to the U.S., and opposed the nomination of “damn lesbian” Roberta Achtenberg to a federal government post. He appealed to racism when campaigning against a Black opponent, filibustered against establishing a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, and even serenaded African-American Sen. Carol Moseley Braun with “Dixie,” saying he hoped to “make her cry.” He denounced the U.S. Civil Rights Act and once called the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill “the University of Negroes and Communists.”
Carlson has not commented on the yearbook matter, but he has a history of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, along with racist and misogynistic remarks. He has talked about hitting a gay man who allegedly “bothered” him in a restroom, has been known to use the word “fag,” has said it’s “grotesque” for young people to identify as transgender, and more.
On Wednesday on his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, he agreed with a guest who said gender-confirmation procedures “allow people to, you know, basically molest and abuse children.” Several states are trying to ban the procedures for minors; Arkansas is the first one where such a ban has passed. The remark came from Glenn Ellmers, a visiting research scholar at Hillsdale College, an ultraconservative institution in Michigan.
Carlson had said earlier this week that Erik Wemple, media columnist for The Washington Post, was looking into Carlson’s college yearbooks to “see if we’d done anything naughty at the age of 19.” The Post hasn’t commented either.
LGBTQ+ people and allies, however, are responding to the yearbook image. “I’m rarely at a loss for words, but this is truly despicable and well beyond the garden variety homophobic crap we’ve come to expect from this guy,” longtime activist Cleve Jones, a friend and colleague of Milk’s, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Dan White was an assassin who murdered the mayor of San Francisco and a San Francisco city supervisor in cold blood. I just can’t wrap my mind around the depth of his depravity.”
The Lincoln Project, a group of current and former Republicans who opposed Donald Trump’s reelection, sent out a tweet asking, “How many other hate groups is Tucker Carlson a member of?” Law professor Laurence Tribe, gay writer Mark Harris, actor-activist George Takei, and others denounced Carlson as well.