The Pentagon’s press secretary, John F. Kirby, on Thursday publicly rebuked Tucker Carlson for sexist comments made by the Fox News host, in which Mr. Carlson ridiculed recent changes the military had made to be more accommodating to women.
“So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits — pregnant women are going to fight our wars,” Mr. Carlson said on his show Wednesday night. “It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.”
Mr. Carlson went on to praise the Chinese military for increasing the number of ships in its navy, a move he described as “more masculine.” His comments came days after two women — Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army — were nominated to lead two of the military’s combatant commands.
“What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk-show host or the Chinese military,” Mr. Kirby told reporters on Thursday. “Now maybe those folks feel like they have something to prove; that’s on them.”
Soon after Mr. Kirby made his remarks, the U.S. Army posted a tweet in support of women in the armed forces.
Mr. Kirby’s comments were also echoed by a number of active duty military officials, including several generals and the senior enlisted leader of the U.S. Space Command, with some calling out Mr. Carlson directly.
“I’ll remind everyone that his opinion, which he has a right to, is based off of actually zero days of service in the armed forces,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker of the Space Command.
“The bottom line is that we value women in our armed forces,” he added, citing his own 28 years in the Marine Corps, which includes service in combat.
Mr. Carlson’s remarks drew immediate backlash on social media from women on active duty and in the Reserves, as well as female veterans. On Twitter, Maggie Seymour, a major in the Marine Corps Reserve who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, noted the disparity in service between Mr. Carlson and herself.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and an Iraq war veteran, mocked Mr. Carlson by pointing to his 2006 performance on the television show “Dancing With the Stars,” which resulted in him being quickly eliminated from the competition.
“While he was practicing his two-step, America’s female warriors were hunting down Al Qaeda and proving the strength of America’s women,” Ms. Duckworth tweeted.
The senator, whose legs were blown off in combat in Iraq as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Army, added, “Happy belated International Women’s Day to everyone but Tucker, who even I can dance better than.”