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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

The defection of two Republican senators has imperiled President Trump’s nomination of Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced Tuesday they would not vote for DeVos, whose wobbly performance in her confirmation hearings and lack of public school experience have encouraged Senate Democrats seeking to defeat her nomination.

“I will not, I cannot vote to confirm her as our nation’s next secretary of education,” Collins said on the Senate floor.

DeVos has contributed $5,000 to Collins’ campaigns. But Murkowski’s no-vote was perhaps an even bigger surprise. DeVos’ family businesses have contributed $33,400 to Murkowski’s political campaigns since 1989, according to OpenSecrets.

With all 48 Democratic senators expected to vote against DeVos, Democrats need only one more vote to kill her nomination. Attention has turned to two of the most moderate Republican senators, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Protests organized by public education advocates in Alaska may have made the difference. More than 200 demonstrators thronged Murkowski’s office in Anchorage on Monday, according to Alaska Dispatch News. Her staff estimated the senator’s office received an unprecedented 30,000 phone calls about DeVos.

Of all of Trump’s nominees, DeVos has attracted the most opposition, even from her fellow alumni of Calvin College, the private Christian school in Michigan from which she graduated.

Last month hundreds of Calvin College graduates signed a letter objecting to DeVos’ nomination.

While many of us were inspired by our time at Calvin College to make education a professional commitment, Mrs. DeVos was not. She has never worked in any educational institution as an administrator, nor as an educator. If the position of the Secretary of Education requires the individual to have an intimate knowledge of the tools used by educators, which we believe it does, Mrs. DeVos does not qualify.

The Senate has not yet scheduled the final vote on DeVos’ confirmation.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. 

IMAGE: Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing to be next Secretary of Education on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.


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Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.


Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.