Fox News host Tucker Carlson, once called "literally our greatest ally" by neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, will give the 2018 Roy H. Park Distinguished Lecture for the UNC School of Media and Journalism.
According to UNC
, Carlson "will share his insights on today's political landscape, including candid commentary on the latest insider political news out of Washington, D.C." during the April 12 lecture, which is free and open to the public.
It's a choice that seems bound for backlash on a largely liberal campus recently embroiled in protest — whether that backlash is a reaction to Carlson's politics or the idea of a cable news commentator delivering a journalism school lecture. That said, past
Roy H. Park Distinguished lecturers
have not shied away from opinion (or controversy). Roger Ailes, the late, disgraced chairman
and CEO of FOX News, had the honor in 2012 and conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer in 2007. Carlson will be the fifth Fox News-affiliated person to deliver the lecture since 2012.
The announcement comes after the passage of a free speech policy on all UNC campuses that establishes sanctions for students and faculty who substantially interrupt speakers. Last year, students protested an appearance by former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka.
Carlson is the host of Carlson Tucker Tonight, among the Fox News channel's most watched shows. He took over the slot from host Bill O'Reilly, who was begrudgingly forced out
amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations.
A news release from UNC says Carlson "burst on the broadcast scene with a reputation as conservatism's bright young wit" and quotes commentator James Carville's assessment that Carlson is "one of the world's great contrarian." UNC touts Carlson as a "veteran political commentator," finalist
for a National Magazine Award. columnist for New York and Reader's Digest magazines, contributor to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and co-founder of The Daily Caller news site.
Carlson has gained a reputation as a favorite cable news host of white supremacists, for his hard-line rhetoric on immigration, often setting his sights on sanctuary cities and "race baiters" on the left.
Carlson has been criticized for defending
the "It's Okay to Be White" posters that cropped up in schools and other places last year in a campaign started and promoted by white supremacists. More recently
, he drew fire for a segment on immigration with Canadian commentator Mark Steyn, in which Carlson says it's "bewildering" for "people who grew up here" to see a growing Hispanic population, and describes immigrants as "people who snuck into our country and are demanding rights and money."
Carlson's lecture at UNC is free, but registration is required. The lecture will be followed by a moderated conversation with associate professor Daniel Kreiss, students Jordan Fieulleteau, Kelsey Mason and Haley McDougal.