You’ll often hear actors and musicians say that they hope their children don’t follow in their footsteps and enter the industry. So, does a career in media work the same way? According to Megyn and Tucker Carlson, the answer is yes. And the inverse might also be true – their kids have no interest in journalism either.
On Friday’s show, Megyn and Carlson discussed the state of the media industry, how the Fox News host was encouraged by his dad to pursue journalism, and why neither of their kids are planning to follow a similar path.
How Carlson’s Dad Influenced His Career
Carlson was raised in Southern California by his father, late journalist Dick Carlson. The elder Carlson was a reporter who became director of Voice of America and president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and he is also responsible for his son’s career in media – though not for the reason you might think.
As Carlson explained, he was interested in joining the CIA but was a “below average” student. “I just was not thriving at all, I was just partying like crazy and being a total rudderless idiot, but I was completely in love with this girl,” he shared. “This girl” was his now wife Susan Andrews. “We’d been dating since high school, and I wanted to get married my senior year at college,” he recalled. “Her dad said, ‘You can’t marry my daughter without a job.’”
He applied to the CIA and was rejected, which led his own father to suggest journalism. “My dad goes, ‘You should just go into journalism – they’ll take anybody,’” Carlson said. Unlike the reputation of the media today, Carlson said he had a positive connotation of the career because of how well it had served his dad. After a rough childhood and time in the Marines, Dick found his footing as a reporter. “He’s really smart – you know, he read a book every day – and was a very intense intellectual,” Carlson noted. “And he thrived in journalism.”
His dad believed it could have a similar effect on his life – so long as he could write. “And I could write, that was my one skill,” Carlson said. “So, I did for $14,000 a year, and it was great.”
Why Megyn and Carlson’s Kids Have No Interest in Media
Fast forward a few years and Carlson found himself as the youngest anchor in CNN history. At the time, that was something he was proud of. It’s less of a “badge of honor” these days. “I was always proud of that, [but] now I’m not sure,” he shared. “I haven’t thought of it in years, but I don’t know if I would brag about it.”
Carlson’s new book The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism takes a closer look at the decline of the once noble profession and how it tracks with the state of the U.S. as a whole. “[Journalism] used to be a real thing,” Megyn said. “People used to try hard, and they used to be able to check their politics even though they had politics.” Not anymore. “Journalism doesn’t just chronicle what happens in the country, journalism reflects the country that produces it,” Carlson noted. “So, if all the institutions collapse at once, we shouldn’t be surprised that journalists are totally incapable of standing far back enough to acknowledge what’s happening.”
Perhaps it is no surprise then that neither of their children are interested in following in their footsteps. Megyn has three children; Carlson has four. All of them have grown up in the industry and have apparently seen enough.
Carlson shared that he had a conversation with one of his “very smart” adult children when they graduated college. He suggested a career in journalism because “many generations of our family have done that” and he thought they “have the natural aptitude for it,” but he was promptly rebuffed. “This kid looked at me and goes, ‘What? No, I could never work with those people. They’re awful. They’re liars,’” he recalled.
He said the frank analysis hurt his feelings. “It’s so painful to see my children look at the career that I chose… and just have such contempt for it and for the people involved,” Carlson said. “My oldest is 27… their godparents are journalists… and they were like, no, no, no chance.”
While Megyn’s kids are younger, she doesn’t expect any journalists to come out of her family either. “I’m like, ‘Oh God, no, you don’t want to do this,’” she shared. She’d rather see them take a cue from their dad. “They look at my husband, who is a writer, and they’re like, ‘How about becoming a writer,’” she said. “And we’re all like, ‘Yes, do that… write books. That’s a nice industry.’”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Carlson by tuning in to episode 167 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.