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Tag: tucker carlson

Echoes Of Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre In Carlson's Slander Of Soros

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

After the Anti-Defamation League again called for Fox News host Tucker Carlson's firing due to his promotion of the white nationalist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, Carlson's first response was to tell a podcast interviewer, "Fuck them." His second was to use his prime-time show to blame a Jew for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in "your" neighborhood, echoing the apparent motivation of the alleged perpetrator of the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

Carlson is the nation's most prominent advocate for the "great replacement" conspiracy theory, which posits that elites are trying to gain and entrench their power by using mass immigration to systematically replace white people with people of color in the U.S. and other Western countries. This noxious viewpoint was once limited to internet fever swamps, but Carlson has helped make it increasingly mainstream in the Republican Party.

On Thursday, Carlson drew cheers from white nationalists with his most unambiguous endorsement of the theory yet. He explicitly referenced "great replacement," while alleging that President Joe Biden wants to "change the racial mix of the country" by replacing "legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries" for political gain.

The next night, just hours after ADL called for his firing, Carlson singled out Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros for his role in promoting the resettlement of Afghans "without the consent of the people who live there," through the group Welcome.US. According to Carlson, Soros' motivation is that he "hate[s] this country and want[s] to destroy it."

"It doesn't matter what you want, you're just a citizen," Carlson spat. "Shut up. George Soros is richer than you, he decides what you get."

Carlson added that Soros and the Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas, who are honorary co-chairs of the group, "have no idea who we are because they know nothing about the country." He concluded by promising more reporting in the future about what he learned in Hungary, where Viktor Orbán, the country's autocratic leader touted by Carlson, has waged a years-long war on Soros and his organizations.



Soros has long been a focus of right-wing media attacks for his role in funding progressive political candidates and organizations (including Media Matters). Those attacks often feature anti-Semitic overtones.

Carlson's chyron described Welcome.US as "Soros' Afghan Resettlement Org," and his commentary suggested that Soros is playing a lead role. But in reality, Soros' Open Society Foundations is one of more than 250 "organizations, leaders, and businesses" involved in the group. Other partners include such notorious America-hating radical organizations as the American Red Cross, Save the Children, the Episcopal Migration Ministries, and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and charities from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are also helping with the effort to resettle Afghan refugees.

But Carlson isn't focusing his fire on any of those myriad nonprofit and faith groups involved in resettling Afghans. He chose to focus his fire very specifically on Soros, while portraying refugee resettlement as part of a plot to destroy the country. There's a very dark history to that brand of attack.

Carlson feigned confusion as to why the ADL would concern itself with his "great replacement" commentary in his initial comments to the podcaster. But as the group's initial letter calling for Carlson's firing explains, that conspiracy theory provided motivations for a series of hate-fueled mass shootings -- including the 2018 attack on worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people. The alleged gunman, a white nationalist, had accused the Jewish refugee resettlement organization HIAS shortly before the attack of bringing Central American "invaders" into the U.S, and he claimed that Jews were "committing genocide" against his people after being captured at the scene.

Now Carlson is offering virtually the same claim from Fox's 8 p.m. hour, simply swapping Soros in for HIAS and leaving references to Jews implicit.

In 2018, Fox executives at least pretended to care about the network serving as a platform for vile rhetoric that echoed the alleged shooter. After Fox Business triggered a firestorm shortly after the attack by rebroadcasting Judicial Watch research director Chris Farrell's false claim that Soros had masterminded a caravan of Central American migrants headed for the U.S. border, Farrell was permanently banned from Fox News and Fox Business.

But there were no repercussions for more prominent Fox personalities who propagated that same lie. And Fox executives all the way up to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch have since become even more invested in and supportive of Carlson using his platform to spew blood-soaked conspiracy theories.

Correction (9/27/21): This piece originally included the wrong name for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

The Murdochs Love Tucker Carlson’s Vile Conspiracy Theories

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Tucker Carlson's Fox News show is a toxic combination of Infowars-style conspiracy theories and Stormfront-esque xenophobia because that's what network founder Rupert Murdoch, parent company CEO Lachlan Murdoch, and network CEO Suzanne Scott want in their 8 p.m. hour. Fox executives keep making excuses for Carlson's malignant commentary, he correctly interprets their defenses as a green light to be ever more extreme, and all the other stakeholders in the network are willing to go along with it.

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Fox News Poll Finds Strong Majority Supports Masks, Vaccination

For months, Fox News hosts have been trying to convince Americans not to take basic steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But the network's own polling shows that its disinformation has not swayed most voters.

On Sunday, the network released a poll of registered voters that showed strong support for both mask usage and COVID-19 vaccination. By a 69 percent - 28 percent margin, those polled said they "believe wearing face masks helps reduce the spread of coronavirus" — consistent with scientific evidence — and by a 65 percent - 29 percent margin they agreed that the vaccines are "safe and effective."

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Stefanik Invokes Racist ‘Great Replacement’ Theory In Campaign Ads

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranked Republican in the House, began running a series of campaign ads on Facebook on Wednesday invoking a racist conspiracy theory that falsely alleges that immigrants are being invited to the United States to replace white voters.

The campaign for Stefanik, who is up for reelection in November 2022 for New York's 22nd Congressional District, is promoting ads that read:" Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi are attempting to flood our voter roles with 11 MILLION NEW VOTERS by giving illegal immigrants amnesty."

The ads link to a fundraising page featuring similar copy, which alleges, "Democrats want citizenship for 11 MILLION illegal immigrants… so they can stuff the ballot box for socialism."

Stefanik's ads make reference to efforts made by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 10.3 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.

The ads also invoke the conspiracy theory known as "the great replacement," which the Anti-Defamation League has defined as "the hateful notion that the white race is in danger of being 'replaced' by a rising tide of non-whites."

Messages that promote the theory have become increasingly common among Republican elected officials and in conservative media.

In 2016, as he was running for office, former President Donald Trump said, "I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you're going to have people flowing across the border, you're going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they're going to be legalized and they're going to be able to vote and once that all happens you can forget it."

Fox News has also latched on to the message and many of its on-air personalities have spent the ensuing years repeating and amplifying the racist smear.

The most prominent advocate on the network has been host Tucker Carlson, who has invoked the idea on numerous occasions.

"I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that?" Carlson said on the April 8 edition of his program.

In an April 9 letter to Fox News executives, Anti-Defamation League CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called on Fox News to fire Carlson for using the trope.

"It is dangerous race-baiting, extreme rhetoric. And yet, unfortunately, it is the culmination of a pattern of increasingly divisive rhetoric used by Carlson over the past few years," the letter read.

But Carlson was undeterred. On April 12, Carlson said on his program, "Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party's political ambitions." And on April 21, Carlson told his audience, "You're being replaced, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Other Fox News hosts, including Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Jesse Watters, have also promoted the same racist "replacement" trope.

And Republicans in Congress have followed suit.

In a campaign video released on April 11, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) falsely claimed that Democrats "want borders wide open," alleging that this "helped Democrats take over the entire state of California" in the past.

During a congressional hearing on April 14, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) claimed, "We're replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation."

Two days later, on April 16, while appearing on Fox Business, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attacked Democrats on immigration, asking, "Is it really they want to remake the demographics of America, to ensure their — that they stay in power forever? Is that what's happening here?"

The theory has had deadly real-world implications. It was cited in a manifesto left behind by the white supremacist who shot and killed 51 people and injured 40 in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. The idea was also invoked by neo-Nazis who protested in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, using the slogan, "Jews will not replace us."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Flattened By Vote, Recall Activists Wanly Claim 'Success'

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

On Wednesday, after the GOP effort to recall California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom officially came to an end in a resounding loss, Fox News hosted a roundtable of anti-Newsom activists who claimed they had achieved "success."

The recall results were not close. The ballot against recalling Newsom received 64 percent of the vote and held a lead of over 2.5 million votes, with 70 percent of the total counted.

However, Fox & Friends invited several guests who were a part of the recall movement to react to the results of the election, and many of them declared successes.

"I do think this was a huge success because a small group of people did put some fear into the governor to the point that he actually had to fly out the vice president and the president," Erica Kious, the former owner of a San Francisco hair salon, said, after saying she was "devastated" by the recall results.

In September 2020, Kious had released a video of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting her salon despite COVID restrictions.

"It was a huge grassroots effort," guest Aaron Bergh said. "It was great to see this revolution of small business owners and dissatisfied parents and just ordinary Californians to put their foot down and say we need change here."

The GOP effort to oust Newsom lost despite national support and fundraising campaigns.

While Newsom outraised his opponents, there were millions raised in favor of the recall campaign. The Los Angeles Times reported that pro-recall efforts received over $45.2 million in donations.

The recall campaign also had the support of the national Republican Party and the California Republican Party.

"Gavin Newsom has had three years to solve California's problems. He has only made them worse. His time in office is up," Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in an op-ed column on FoxNews.com on Tuesday.

Jessica Millan Patterson, chair of the California Republican Party, wrote a few hours before the election, "@CAGOP has grown to 72,000 volunteers and made 18 million voter contacts to #RecallGavinNewsom - the excitement and enthusiasm is there, Californians are hungry for change."

And then there was Fox News. As polling began showing a likely Newsom win, Fox began to promote baseless conspiracy theories alleging that the election would be stolen.

"The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud," Fox host Tomi Lahren claimed on the September 7 edition of the program Outnumbered.

On August 22, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich similarly alleged that "this is going to be an election where they go all-out to steal the referendum."

And on August 25, Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigning for Newsom was a threat to democracy: "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now set to campaign against the recall — 'No more democracy for you!' You've got to wonder, will the state survive this? Will there be a free and fair election?"

Despite the efforts of the state and national Republicans and their allies at Fox, the leading Republican candidate in the recall, Larry Elder, conceded on Tuesday night.

"Let's be gracious in defeat. By the way, we may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war," Elder said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

How Right-Wing Media Promote Ivermectin Scams

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The ivermectin debacle shows the lengths that influential right-wing media figures are willing to go to avoid encouraging their viewers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Propagandists like Fox News star Tucker Carlson would rather promote an anti-parasite drug that health agencies say has not been shown to be effective against the virus than the vaccines they say are almost miraculously so.

But the saga also shows how the right-wing movement functions as a money-making operation that serves up its hapless members to scammers.

NBC News' Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny last month detailed a scheme to cash in on people who want ivermectin, but can't get a prescription from a responsible medical practitioner. SpeakWithAnMD.com, they reported, is a telemedicine website touted on anti-vaccination social media communities for serving as a pill mill for ivermectin. The website offers consultations for $90; asks prospective patients whether they are seeking ivermectin, the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, or another medication; and promises same-day delivery of prescribed drugs through an online pharmacy.

The telemedicine website has ties to the broader right-wing infrastructure, NBC News further reported. It partners with America's Frontline Doctors, a fringe-right medical organization that regularly promotes COVID-19 misinformation and has drawn sympathetic coverage from Fox News and other right-wing outlets. (That group's founder, Dr. Simone Gold, was arrested after storming the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 insurrection and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct.)

This grift relies on three elements. First, demand for ivermectin is expanding due to its promotion by right-wing and contrarian media personalities and on social media platforms. Second, legitimate supply is limited because responsible doctors don't want to give their patients a drug that the Food and Drug Administration and the drug's manufacturer, among others, do not recommend as a treatment for COVID-19. And third, the drug is generally safe with proper dosing, limiting liability for the grifters. The marks are separated from their money but are otherwise fine -- unless they actually have or get COVID-19 and thought that ivermectin was a substitute for the vaccines or more proven therapeutics.

Wealthy right-wing propagandists like Carlson, his prime-time colleagues Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and the litany of other notables who have touted ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment each play an essential role in this scheme, even if there's no reason to think they directly profit from it. By serving as hype men for a drug when there's little to no evidence it actually works, they are helping to fuel demand from an audience that trusts them. If they were to do otherwise -- if they were to reveal to their viewers that they were being taken advantage of by con artists -- the whole plot would likely collapse.

Right-wing media companies are built on this type of con culture. Outlets and personalities use ideological, often paranoid, political coverage to build connections with their audiences. They convince those audience members that mainstream information sources that present contradictory narratives can't be trusted. And then they bilk those marks for all they are worth.

The business model for Newsmax, the TV and digital empire overseen by Christopher Ruddy, revolves around this sort of grift. Its real moneymakers are its health and financial newsletters, authored by various charlatans, and its huge email lists, which consist overwhelmingly of older conservatives whom Ruddy gleefully sells out to any snake oil peddler or fraudster who can pay his fee. All of this has been well-known for years. But former President Donald Trump still goes on his close friend Ruddy's TV network; Trump's ludicrously dishonest first press secretary, Sean Spicer, is one of its hosts; Republican governors and members of Congress are frequent guests; and Newsmax's website publishes an array of columnists from all factions of the GOP. None of them care.

But Newsmax has simply perfected a business strategy seen throughout the right-wing press. Everywhere you turn, Republican luminaries and storied publications are renting their email lists to quacks hocking phony cures for Alzheimer's disease and financial conmen promising a path to riches for just a small fee. Commentators ranging from the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to the podcaster Joe Rogan to the "cool kid's philosopher" Ben Shapiro are all hocking brain pills of dubious effect. If you watch a few Fox commercial breaks, you'll hear all about the purported benefits of predatory reverse mortgages and how gold is the investment you need to protect yourself from the coming market crash.

All of these shady sales pitches boil down to a simple narrative: The experts and the mainstream press are conning you. They don't want you to know about Ronald Reagan's "secret cancer cure," or how to make your brain extra smooth, or how you can use their very affordable investment tips to escape ruin during the impending financial apocalypse, or about the survival food stockpile you'll need when the FEMA camps open. In fact, if you were one of the sheeple who watches the mainstream media, you probably wouldn't even know about the FEMA camps. Aren't you the lucky one?

These appeals are potent in part because they feed on the arguments that right-wing media have been making for decades. The lies and perfidy of the mainstream press and the secret knowledge available to right-wing media consumers are core precepts of the worldview that these outlets propagate.

None of these pathologies were paused for the pandemic. Instead, as the virus spread across the country, many right-wing media figures turned to peddling a host of fraudulent coronavirus treatments, at times drawing action from regulators. Conspiracy theorists and charlatans cashed in by rebranding themselves into contrarian COVID-19 gurus.And the leading lights of the right-wing commentariat have ping-ponged from one dubious therapeutic to another, while offering their followers a range of reasons why they may not want to take the safe, effective vaccines.

They've primed their audiences to believe bullshit, and there are plenty of grifters who are more than willing to take advantage. In right-wing media's long con, the dupes shell out while the propagandists get rich.

With Newsom Leading In Recall, Fox News Cries ‘Fraud’

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is rolling out the next round of election-related conspiracy theories: This time, by casting doubt on the idea that a Democrat could win an election in the heavily Democratic state of California, where incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election backed by Republicans.

For what it's worth, recent polls from SurveyUSA, the Public Policy Institute of California, and even Republican polling firm Trafalgar Group have all put Newsom ahead by significant margins in the key vote to remain in office.

Fox News previously served a major role in former President Donald Trump's efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election. And beyond that, attempting to cast doubt on any Democratic win is on brand for Fox — network personalities also attacked the Georgia Senate runoffs while votes were being counted, including by casting suspicion on the high voter turnout in the election. And in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, part of the network's immediate response was to push for changes to voting lawsthat would help to suppress Democratic turnout, which the network then supported in the months afterward.

In that context, Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren claimed on Tuesday's edition of Outnumbered: "The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud. So as they say, stay woke, pay attention to the voter fraud going on in California, because it's going to have big consequences not only for that state, but for upcoming elections."

And on Monday night, when Republican gubernatorial candidate and right-wing radio host Larry Elder appeared for an interview on Fox News Primetime, it was rotating host Rachel Campos-Duffy who brought up the subject of supposed election fraud: "A lot of people think you have the wind at your back but you seem to be concerned about some shenanigans that could be happening at the ballot box — or maybe in the mail."

Elder has indeed spread conspiracy theories about voting machines having been rigged in the 2020 presidential election, and suggested that this might happen again in the California recall, but in this instance he simply gave some rhetorical boilerplate on being "concerned about voter fraud," and said that his campaign website had a "voter integrity project set up with a bunch of lawyers ready to file lawsuits if anybody sees anything suspicious."

And last week, on the September 1 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson said that expanded usage of mail-in voting in multiple states, including in the case of California, were being done because Newsom "knows that mail-in ballots, which by definition lack any form of voter ID, cannot be verified. Those kind of ballots overwhelmingly benefit his party because they abet voter fraud."

Carlson has also spread falsehoods about non-citizens voting in the recall, and he claimed on August 25 that the state would need outside observers to "to make sure this election isn't stolen."

Some in media have argued that these right-wing talking points picked up recently because the early statistics on returned ballots have indicated that Democratic voters are not sitting the election out, and therefore the groundwork must be laid for a conspiracy theory to explain a possible Republican loss.

To the extent that this explanation might be true, it should also be noted that the foundation was already being laid weeks ago, including by one of Fox News' most shameless and vitriolic promoters of election denialism: Newt Gingrich. Appearing on the August 22 edition of Sunday Morning Futures, in a segment reminiscent of host Maria Bartiromo and Gingrich's previous false claims about the 2020 election, the former GOP House speaker painted a lurid picture of vast election fraud in California:

NEWT GINGRICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Frankly, what people ought to look at is this is going to be an election where they go all-out to steal the referendum. The secretary of state of California has now said you can print your own ballots. I mean, you think about this. You talk about the opposite of election integrity. They're going to allow you to print your own ballots. They're going to allow people to come around and harvest your ballot.

So, the unions will be out there, and they will make sure that everybody votes, even if they don't vote. And I think this may well be the most rigged statewide election we have seen probably in at least a half century.

And I think people should look carefully at this, because there's pretty good evidence that, if Newsom is in a straight, honest count, he probably — he has a good chance of losing. But if they can stuff every ballot box in California and they can cheat in every way possible — and so [Vice President Kamala Harris is] part of raising the money to pay for the cheating. I mean, it's just that simple. It's not complicated.

MARIA BARTIROMO (HOST): That is so extraordinary.

GINGRICH: Yes.

BARTIROMO: And that is the reason we continue to focus on all of these audits going on across the country. We want fair and free elections.

(Just to be clear, Gingrich's references to voters being able to "print your own ballots" involves a state program, known as the Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail system, made in order to accommodate disabled voters and expanded during the pandemic, which has safeguards to ensure that a person can only print one ballot.)

At around that same time, Fox personalities also latched onto a local story involving a reported felon who was found in possession of 300 mail-in ballots — although it quickly became clear that these were among thousands of pieces of stolen mail, along with other items such as driver's licenses and credit cards, rather than the alleged thief having actually targeted the ballots specifically.

"There's nothing to indicate this was anything specifically to impact the election," a spokesman for the Los Angeles county clerk's office said. "It seems like this person was likely trying to steal mail."

The August 24 edition of Fox Business' The Evening Edit ran a segment with the loaded chyron asking, "Why were 300 mail-in ballots stolen in CA recall election?" — even though the ballots made up just a fraction of the overall theft of mail. Republican strategist Ford O'Connell claimed that "to be perfectly honest with you, with Gavin Newsom on the ropes, you have to think that this is just a little more than coincidental." He later upped the rhetorical ante even further: "Remember, Nancy Pelosi said she was going to activate her own operation. Maybe this is what she meant."

"We don't know — I know you're being facetious," responded host Elizabeth MacDonald, though there was not any indication of such an intent on O'Connell's part.

And on the August 25 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host claimed that Democratic efforts to campaign for Newsom were themselves a threat to democracy: "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now set to campaign against the recall — 'No more democracy for you!' You've got to wonder, will the state survive this? Will there be a free and fair election?"

He then interviewed Republican lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, who used the story as an example of supposed Democratic malfeasance: "Of course, they are playing fast and loose. We've seen some very alarming scenes of 300 ballots bundled together in the car of a person with a gun and some drugs, and so we are definitely looking into all of these issues."

Dhillon's invocation of the story was then followed by an on-screen visual of the stolen mail, which Carlson's production would have needed to already have prepared.

On the subject of ballots being thrown out, as well as the need to ensure a free and fair election, Dhillon previously served as a campaign legal adviser to Donald Trump in 2020. In the days following the election, she appeared with then-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and spoke of the campaign's effort to have the Supreme Court intervene in the ongoing vote counts: "We're waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the president has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through."

So perhaps these people might not be approaching the California recall from a standpoint of supporting democracy.