BRYANT POND — Fox News host Tucker Carlson dropped plans late Wednesday for developing a new studio near his vacation home in rural western Maine.

The conservative commentator and Fox News have been under fire since the recent disclosure of racist and sexist comments he made years ago on the “Bubba the Love Sponge” radio show. The controversy has driven away some of his advertisers and complicated the network’s rollout of its new marketing slogan, “America is Watching.”

Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” has drawn the attention of media activists for an apparent history of racist and sexist comments. Associated Press/Richard Drew

Carlson, however, blamed the media for undermining his plans to buy the old town garage in Bryant Pond for $30,000 and turn it into a broadcast studio with enough room for an audience.

“There’s nothing I can do,” he said, because Fox isn’t going to leave $1 million worth of equipment in a small, rural studio whose presence is widely known.

“I’m kind of bitter about it,” Carlson said, blaming the Sun Journal for publicizing the project. “All it does is hurt me.”

Carlson already rents a small space in the basement of the town library to broadcast shows when he is in Bryant Pond during the summer. He had hoped to expand what he calls “the northernmost bureau of Fox News” by buying the garage and turning it into a studio that would have allowed him to do more shows in Maine.

“I can’t have the building now,” Carlson said. “I’m kind of crushed.”

He called the news story published online Wednesday evening “a total violation of my privacy.”

Voters had been slated to decide at Monday’s town meeting whether to accept Carlson’s offer.

“It would be great to use it for something,” Town Manager Vern Maxfield said Wednesday afternoon. He had expected the deal to pass without much opposition.

Bryant Pond, nestled in the hills of western Maine, is most famous for being the last place in America to abandon hand-cranked telephones. Dial phones didn’t arrive there until 1982.

Today, a 10- by 20-foot room in the basement of the town’s library, which Carlson rents for $2,500 a year, is regularly seen on television screens across the country.

A new and roomier studio would have made an even bigger impression.

Carlson told the town that “a nightly show from the garage,” which is behind the Grange hall and beside the Whitman Memorial Library, “would be a great place for local people to gather.”

Carlson laid out his plans in a Dec. 21 letter to the Woodstock selectmen, including why he’s so fond of Bryant Pond, a rural Maine town of 1,300.

Carlson said in the one-page letter that he’s “spent virtually every summer of my life on Lake Christopher” in the town and plans to retire there when his television career comes to a close.

“We’ve got a plot in Lakeside Cemetery,” Carlson said. “That’s how strongly I feel about it.”

Maxfield, the town manager, said he’s known Carlson for three decades, beginning when Carlson was a student who knocked about town during the summer.

Back then, when Carlson attended Trinity College in Connecticut, he told Maxfield that he someday would like to be a journalist.

“He’s done very well,” Maxfield said, dismissing recent stories about the racist and sexist comments Carlson made years ago as misplaced hoopla. He said he texted Carlson to tell him “to hang in there, bud” until the storm blows over.

Maxfield said Carlson mentioned to him a couple of years ago that he’d like to find a way to do some broadcasts from Maine so he wouldn’t have to leave so often.

The town manager responded, “What about the library basement?”

With that, Fox News arrived in Bryant Pond.

It wasn’t possible to see the studio Wednesday because the library, surrounded by a muddy parking lot and towering snowbanks, is only open two days a week. But one of its two basement doors, which open onto a lot that stretches to the garage and Grange hall, had a business card in the window for Patrick Feeney, Bryant Pond bureau chief, beside a Fox News logo.

Peering in the window, carts full of videos and some books were visible but nothing to indicate that it is sometimes the home for Carlson’s popular nightly show.

Carlson’s presence in the region has rarely been noted. He spoke to the Woodstock Republicans once five years ago. And he has occasionally shown some specific knowledge of the area, though not always accurately.

For example, three years ago, Carlson talked about the Somali community in Lewiston, claiming “the left moved thousands” of refugees from camps in Kenya to Maine, a misleading summary. The early immigrants moved on their own to Lewiston from Atlanta, where they had been settled.

Maxfield said Carlson is around pretty often. He said his friend is an avid fisherman, occasionally likes to hunt and basically enjoys “anything that gets him out of the Washington mindset.”

The town manager said Carlson is well-known in Bryant Pond – an assertion easily confirmed by a few residents Wednesday who said they’ve met him – and doesn’t put on any airs.

“He’s just Tucker,” Maxfield said, a guy who is “just part of the fabric of the town.”


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