During the program, Carlson talked to Darren Beattie, a former speechwriter for President Trump who left the White House in 2018 after CNN reported that he had attended a conference that included white nationalists among its participants. Beattie told CNN in a statement at the time that he attended the conference and “delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely.”
The former Trump aide resurfaced this week on Twitter, calling out Zadrozny for examining public records to identify people who launch harassment efforts without divulging their identity. Since the segment aired, a number of NBC News employees, including MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes, have risen to her defense.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, NBC News said its rival, part of Fox Corporation, “has chosen to smear Brandy. In so doing they have shamefully encouraged harassment and worse.”
Fox News Channel did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Carlson has in recent years become a Fox News figure as controversial as he is well-watched. His ratings have soared even as some of the topics he discusses offend critics and frighten advertisers. “There’s a very high cost. It would be a lot easier for me to mouth the same mindless platitudes” embraced by other pundits, he told Variety in August. “I’ve been rewarded for that with our viewership, but I’ve also lived with the consequences, which are very negative. I knew that going in.”
NBC News said Carlson was trying to intimidate a journalist who was doing her job. “Over the past several years, journalists from news organizations around the world have put themselves at risk in order to shine a light in the dark corners of society and the Internet – specifically in the realm of conspiracy theories and online extremism,” NBC News said in its statement. “Last night on Fox News Channel, Tucker Carlson dangerously and dishonestly targeted one of those journalists – Brandy Zadrozny. Brandy represents the best of investigative journalism and of NBC News. She is relentlessly well-researched and sophisticated in her understanding of disinformation and conspiracy theories on the Internet and within some social media communities. She’s written definitive stories on extremism, QAnon, the profiteers behind rising anti-vaccination and COVID denial movements – among many other topics. Her work is widely respected and has contributed greatly to the public’s awareness and understanding of the dangers of this alt-universe that breeds online but has very tangible real-world impacts.”
Zadrozny joined NBC News in 2018, after working as a reporter and researcher at The Daily Beast, according to her LinkedIn page. She also spent 18 months as a news librarian and researcher at Fox News Channel.
Fox News and NBC have a history of tangling with each other. In 2009, the two companies forced a halt to months of public insults traded by primetime hosts Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann, after Rupert Murdoch, then head of News Corporation and Jeffrey Immelt, chief of NBC’s then-owner General Electric, agreed to a cease fire.