Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson branded 'the worst human being known to mankind' in viral confrontation

Controversial US TV star Tucker Carlson has been branded "the worst human being known to mankind" in a scathing confrontation with a man that has since gone viral on social media.

The man, identified on Instagram as Montana resident Dan Bailey, shared a video of his tense encounter with the primetime host in a sporting goods store on Friday, July 23 (local time).

"It's not every day you get to tell someone they are the worst person in the world and really mean it! What an asshole!" Bailey wrote.

Carlson's response to Bailey's tirade is unclear in the 22-second clip, but both men - who are standing very close to one another - can be seen firmly touching each other on the chest as if to maintain a distance. Carlson quickly smiles at the camera before attempting to continue his shopping. 

Carlson, 52, is the most-watched host on Fox News, a right-wing television channel based in New York. He's been cited as a major influence of right-wing politics and is considered a paleoconservative - someone who is extremely right-wing in their views and values.

The political commentator, who has hosted the nightly talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight since 2016, has recently faced backlash for challenging both the efficacy and safety of vaccines against COVID-19, with many accusing Carlson of fuelling misinformation and fear around vaccination. 

According to reports, the host has also refused to disclose whether he has received a jab. 

In a piece for the Washington Post earlier this month, Carlson was also branded the "voice of white grievance".

The confrontation, which has been viewed more than 225,110 times at the time of writing, has received mostly positive responses from appreciative social media users, with one commenting: "So. Much. Yes."

"This is gold," wrote another.

"You win the internet today sir!" another comment reads.

Others referenced a highly-publicised incident in April this year when Carlson said members of the public should report parents to police and child services if they see children "wearing masks as they play", calling mandatory face coverings "child abuse".

Carlson also said "the only people who wear masks outside are zealots and neurotics".

"Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart," he said.

"Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you're looking at is abuse, it's child abuse and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it."

In a statement provided to local media after the video of the confrontation went viral, a spokesperson for Fox News said "ambushing" the presenter was "totally inexcusable".

"Ambushing Tucker Carlson while he is in a store with his family is totally inexcusable - no public figure should be accosted regardless of their political persuasion or beliefs simply due to the intolerance of another point of view."

The confrontation with Carlson occurred at Dan Bailey's Outdoor Co in Livingston, near Yellowstone National Park. In a statement, the store said it was purely a coincidence that the man in the video shares the same name, and that he is not affiliated with the shop.

"On July 23rd, a well-known television personality, Tucker Carlson, was [confronted] while shopping at Dan Bailey outdoor company. Coincidentally, the person engaging Mr Carlson was a local resident named Dan Bailey," the statement reads. "This person has no affiliation with our business, other than he shares the same name as our founder, who passed away in 1982. 

"To be clear, we treat every customer equally and respectfully. Our staff was professional and cordial to Mr Carlson, as we are with all of our customers."

In 2004, Jon Stewart said Carlson was "as big a dick" on his own show as he was on any other programme after Carlson made a pointed comment at the comedian.