The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: tucker carlson

Tucker Carlson’s January 6 Counter-Programming Was A Dud

On Thursday night, as cable and broadcast networks switched their feeds to live coverage of the first public hearing by the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, Fox News host Tucker Carlson opened the hour with a declaration that his show was “the only hour on an American news channel that will not be carrying their propaganda live.”


As the January 6 committee released disturbing new footage and revelations of the attack and its planning, Carlson aired a commercial-free hour recapping more than a year's worth of his network's revisionist agitprop surrounding the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Viewers were given what amounted to a stern reminder from Carlson that Fox had already told them what they needed to know about January 6, and he condemned the hearings as a show trial that ignored the real questions about the events.

Those “real” questions constitute a contradictory, easily-debunked, and outright laughable set of claims Fox has presented to viewers as an alternate reality. That version exonerates both the network and Republican officials from their role in promoting false claims about the 2020 election — false claims that would result in a mob attempting to prevent, and succeeding in disrupting, the certification of Joe Biden as president-elect.

Carlson and his guests claimed that the January 6 attack was “a forgettably minor” outbreak of violence. He hosted a white nationalist-affiliated conspiracy theorist who claimed January 6 was a “clear hoax.” Other guests, including right-wing pundit Ned Ryun, so-called “independent journalist” Michael Tracey, and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, disparaged the hearings as illegitimate and a “show trial” while refusing to engage with the substance.

The committee revealed evidentiary texts between Fox host Sean Hannity and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany coordinating a media strategy in response to the attack. During the discussion of the texts, the Fox broadcast zoomed in on the committee dais as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) addressed the committee, while Carlson blasted other networks for airing “unfiltered propaganda.”


At its core, Fox's refusal to engage with the hearings is an act of self-preservation. The style of coverage fits a pattern for Carlson and the network, as I have previously written. Carlson has thrown a mess of misinformation — conspiracy-mongering, minimization, and obfuscation — at the insurrection in the hopes of delegitimizing any serious inquiry into the events of that day. In the 18 months since the attack, he has shifted from condemning the violence to downplaying the insurrection as nothing more than “elderly people [who] showed up with signs,” to producing a three-part torture-porn series calling the attack a “false flag.”

The network had a clear role in the propagation of President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud. The Murdochs are no strangers to putting a blindfold on their viewers in favor of protecting their bottom line, and Fox understands that delegitimizing any attempt at inquiry into the factors that fomented the violent culmination of January 6 is also a mechanism for protecting the network itself from scrutiny.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

White Nationalists Praise Tucker Carlson For Mainstreaming Their Ideology

Fox News host Tucker Carlson is drawing praise from white nationalist outlets for mainstreaming their “great replacement” conspiracy theory after a white supremacist allegedly killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York, in a massacre apparently inspired by it. The Fox star has drawn compliments from the notorious former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and been toasted by racist outlets like VDare and American Renaissance for bringing their message to his millions of viewers.

Carlson emerged over the last several years as the nation’s most prominent champion of the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which posits that a sinister elite cabal (often led by Jews) is trying to destroy the white race by using immigration policy to replace white Americans with nonwhite migrants. The Fox host kept the conspiracy theory’s superstructure intact while sanitizing it for mass consumption by swapping out key terms: Carlson describes “the great replacement” as a plot by President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party, and the Jewish financier George Soros to ensure permanent political dominance and destroy the country by using immigration policy to replace “legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries.”

Both iterations are utterly false, with Carlson’s based on his typical practice of stripping videos of Democrats from context and lying about what they said. But Carlson’s bosses, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, have stood by him as his bigoted commentary drew controversy, with Lachlan at one point even claiming that the host had actually “rejected replacement theory” – a lie that Carlson correctly took as a green light to continue.

White nationalists, who praised Carlson’s show almost since its launch in 2016 and described him as “literally our greatest ally,” have lauded Carlson’s repackaging of replacement theory. They point out that the Fox host is bringing their precepts to a huge national audience, and indeed, several of Carlson’s colleagues and many Republican politicians have followed his lead, integrating the white supremacist conspiracy theory into right-wing dogma.

Carlson’s role promoting the “great replacement” theory drew new attention following the Buffalo mass shooting, but he and his employer remain undeterred. Carlson and his colleagues lashed out at the network’s critics, while his allies tried to draw distinctions between the purportedly non-racist version of great replacement theory he uses and its white supremacist source material.

Carlson, his supporters, and the Murdochs may play dumb about what the host is doing when he invokes “the great replacement.” But white nationalists understand that he is injecting their ideas into the heart of the Republican Party by airing their talking points in a more palatable, less explicitly racist form for a mass audience.

Duke: “Incredible” Carlson is “the only voice that gets out some of the information” but he “can't say there is a war on white people”

Duke highlighted Carlson’s “incredible” May 17 monologue, in which the Fox host again promoted the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, on his radio show the following day.

“I like Tucker Carlson,” Duke later added. “I'm thankful for many of the things that he says. I also disagree with him on a number of points, but I think overall, he's the only voice that gets out some of the information at all.”

The former Klansman – who has previously suggested that Carlson is using his own talking points in discussing “the replacement of legacy Americans” – went on to explain that Carlson puts forward the same ideas as white supremacists like him but “can’t really say it” using the same words.

“He himself is reluctant to use the word ‘white’ unless he quotes other people saying ‘white.’ You can talk about – we can talk about a ‘demographic war.’ But he can't really say it like we can,” Duke said of Carlson. “He can't say there is a war on white people, and there is – there is a war against the white race.”

Duke also bemoaned that Carlson never spells out what Duke claimed is the common thread between “people he mentions like” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the heads of social media giants, and the “neocons that bring us into these terrible wars” (for Duke, a virulent antisemite who was in the middle of an anti-Jewish rant, the key commonality is obviously that they are all Jews).

White nationalists at VDare.com and American Renaissance have also celebrated Carlson’s crucial role in spreading their message to Republican politicians and voters, and have praised everyone involved in mainstreaming their vile idea for refusing to buckle under criticism from Democrats and the press.

VDare.com: Carlson is “heroic,” helped take “great replacement” from “fringes of the right” to “Republican consensus”

Peter Brimelow, the white nationalist founder and editor of VDare.com, wrote in a May 16 piece for his virulent anti-immigrant site that the alleged Buffalo shooter (whose actions Brimelow says he deplores) was motivated by “serious racial concerns.” Brimelow goes on to state that “the Great Replacement is not a ‘theory’—it is a fact.”

“The Ruling Class’s problem is not that guerrilla Dissident Right websites, and the heroic Tucker Carlson, have Noticed the Great Replacement,” the sometime Murdoch employee wrote. “It is that the Great Replacement is undeniably happening—and that it is the result of Federal Government policy.”

Carlson’s role drew a more detailed analysis in a Sunday VDare.com piece by Washington Watcher II, a pseudonymous “DC insider” who writes for the site and whose thesis is that “great replacement” rhetoric is now rampant throughout the Republican Party, thanks in part to Carlson.

Washington Watcher II wrote that Schumer and other Democrats are using the shooting to criticize the “great replacement” conspiracy theory and Carlson, who “talks about it regularly and influences Republican politicians.” But to the writer, that effort is doomed because “great replacement” is “not a fringe idea anymore, but instead part of mainstream discussion in GOP circles.”

After listing prominent Republicans who have used “great replacement” rhetoric, the writer credited Fox’s star host: “Ordinary Republicans—possibly and partly because of Carlson—believe the Great Replacement is real.”

Washington Watcher II praised Carlson and Republican leaders for “showing some backbone” following criticism from Democrats and the press, adding, “Several conservatives defend Carlson and others and say the Great Replacement is an obvious truth. … And many of the major figures accused of spreading this ‘dangerous’ theory—Carlson, [Ohio GOP Senate nominee J.D.] Vance, [Arizona GOP Senate candidate Blake] Masters, and [Texas Lt. Gov. Dan] Patrick—stayed on message through the last week.”

The VDare.com piece concluded: “The Great Replacement is no longer an idea consigned to the fringes of the right. It’s part of the new Republican consensus on border security and immigration. As well it should be. Maybe the Historic American Nation stands a chance, after all.”

American Renaissance: Progressives don’t want Carlson to “inspire young whites to resist replacement”

Carlson also drew plaudits from writers at American Renaissance, another prominent white nationalist website, following the Buffalo shooting.

In a May 19 screed, D.F. Mulder responded to critics of the Fox host by vouching for Carlson’s non-racist credentials and suggesting that those critics want to thwart his ability to “inspire young whites” to take action against their purported replacement.

“Tucker Carlson carefully avoids anything racist. He denounces racism and insists that he judges individuals by their character,” Mulder wrote, adding that “America’s ruling class” is made up of “anti-white zealots.”

“The regime opposes Mr. Carlson, not because he is a ‘racist,’ but because he thwarts their plans. It cannot show that he has said anything probably untrue,” including about “replacement theory,” Mulder added. “The power structure’s opposition to Mr. Carlson is not about truth. It is about the effects of his words, which might inspire young whites to resist replacement rather than disappearing quietly.”

Mulder concluded that in the face of this “ruling class”: “Anyone with any virtue will resist. Some will protest with money, others with pens, and still others — alas, but inevitably — with guns. Resistance is inevitable.”

“Gregory Hood” similarly wrote in a May 18 piece for the site that “the greatest threats to European-Americans are people within our borders” and that “The Great Replacement” is occurring. He praised National Review editor Rich Lowry for defending Carlson’s version of replacement theory and warned that progressives “want more censorship, especially of Tucker Carlson.”

“Hood” further wrote that “leftists … openly celebrate The Great Replacement of whites,” which he suggests is a genocide, and demands that conservatives “fight it.” He concluded: “Whites deserve political representation and legal equality in the country we built. If we don’t get it, we can expect no place in this country. We need to start building a place of our own.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2020 that “Gregory Hood” is a pseudonym for Kevin DeAnna, described as a “prolific white nationalist blogger” and “an early leader and ideological architect of the alt-right” who helped pioneer the insult “cuckservative.”

DeAenna’s piece about the Buffalo massacre is subtitled “Republicans need allies. They need us.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

CPAC Meeting In Hungary Promotes Assault On Liberal Democracy

During a speech at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in Hungary, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson his “friend” and told his audience that Carlson’s show should be “broadcasted day and night.”

Orban is a self-identified supporter of what he calls “illiberal” democracy and has rapidly consolidated power for his far-right party, Fidesz.

According to Orban, the secret to his political success was controlling the media, and he endorsed Carlson as the model to follow. “Have your own media,” said Orban, also noting: “Only friend Tucker Carlson places himself on the line without wavering.”

The nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders has labeled Orban a “predator” to press freedom for his censoring of critics and his successful consolidation of previously independent media outlets under the control of friendly oligarchs. Fidesz now controls 80 percent of the country’s media landscape, and any remaining independent outlets are denied access to official government information and labeled “fake news.”

Carlson returned the strongman’s praise in his prerecorded keynote address, celebrating Hungary as a “signpost to a better way” for America, a dog whistle to Hungary’s racist, anti-immigrant politics.

Since his election in 2010, Orban has worked to silence free speech, banned LGBTQ content in schools, and enforced harsh immigration rules. Because of these policies, the nonprofit Freedom House downgraded the country from “free” to “partly free,” making it one of the least free countries in Europe.

Orban’s far-right politics are thinly veiled applications of the same “great replacement” conspiracy theory that has become front-page news in the United States. “Hungarians are an endangered species,” he said as he stoked fears over immigrants to curtail and prevent further immigration. In 2015, the country built a wall along its border with Serbia to keep out mostly Muslim asylum-seekers, whom he characterized as “invaders” and a threat to national security, Christian identity, and Hungarian society. (Orban’s smears of migrants should sound very familiar to anyone accustomed to Fox News’ portrayals of the southern U.S. border.)

Human Rights Watch described people in Hungary’s detention centers as being “kept in pens like animals, out in the sun without food and water, without any medical assistance." According to Vox, “this is all by design: Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said his goal is to discourage refugees from crossing into Hungary, even at the cost of treating them inhumanely.”

Orban’s “great replacement” rhetoric is uncannily similar to segments from Carlson’s prime-time show. In fact, Carlson’s video appearance at the convention comes on the heels of intense media focus regarding his role mainstreaming the great replacement theory in America, which motivated a shooter to massacre 10 people in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. His praise for Hungary under Orban’s leadership is just another example of his support for the racist theory.

Orban wants to turn this ideology into a movement, and he sees Carlson’s show as a model for right-wing media outlets. During his speech at CPAC, Orban urged conservatives in America and Europe to “find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops” and to “take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels.”

Carlson seems eager to help in these efforts. He praised the country’s anti-immigration policies in 2019, saying that "Hungary's leaders actually care about making sure their own people thrive” and praised Hungary for “using tax dollars to uplift their own people” instead of “every illegal immigrant from the third world.”

Despite broad international criticism for Orban’s draconian policies, Fox News greenlit a special episode of Carlson’s show last year that broadcast from Budapest, during which Carlson proclaimed, “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now.”

Republicans chose to hold CPAC in Orban’s Hungary, one of the world’s most repressive right-wing countries. By Orban’s own admission, a loyal media was key to his party’s takeover and overhaul of Hungary’s democracy. With midterm elections approaching, audiences should take Orban’s endorsement of his “friend” Tucker Carlson as a warning.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Young White Supremacist Killers Live In A System Of Delusion

Chances are, deluded mass murderer Payton Gendron doesn’t actually know any Black people to speak of. According to the 2020 census, his home town of Conklin, New York, roughly 200 miles from the Buffalo supermarket where he acted out his deadly fantasies, has an African-American population smaller than one percent. Gendron needed to drive for hours to locate a Black neighborhood to shoot up.

No matter. The killer wasn’t shooting individual human beings. He was shooting symbols, imaginary projections in his own twisted mind.

Republican thinkers today call it “Replacement Theory,” the notion that Democrats are scheming to subvert American democracy by importing non-white immigrants to support leftist ideology. It’s the particular passion of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. The New York Times has documented more than 400 mentions on his program since 2016—keeping his audience of suspicious old coots sitting there anxiously clutching the TV remote.

There’s no sign Gendron was directly influenced by Carlson. This particular delusional system has a long history in the United States. Only the identity of the racial enemy changes. Back in the 1840s, it was my own Irish Catholic forbearers that threatened to contaminate the nation’s precious bodily fluids. According to the Know Nothing party, the Pope was conspiring to destroy America’s Protestant democracy by flooding the country with Irish and German immigrants.

Blacks, of course, were already here centuries earlier. Indeed, the Know Nothings died out as a political party partly because they could never agree about slavery. Abraham Lincoln once wrote a private letter to a friend explaining why he couldn’t join the movement: “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equals, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’”

Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was a Know-Nothing as well as a Confederate sympathizer.

The idea of subversive immigrants has never gone away. The Ku Klux Klan exploited many of the same impulses; so did George Wallace’s “American Independent Party” in 1968. More recently, Donald Trump’s “Birther” movement portrayed President Barack Obama as racially and religiously unfit. Indeed, Obama’s election caused millions of bigots to lose their collective minds.

What’s more, you don’t have to be an exponent of Critical Race Theory to notice that as other immigrants (such as the Irish) become honorary white people, Blacks remain permanently suspect to the kinds of losers and lone dementos who populate the fringes of the online, nativist far right.

Which brings us back to 18-year-old Payton Gendron with his soldier costume, his largely-plagiarized 180-page manifesto, and his arsenal of semi-automatic rifles. He’s too young to buy a six-pack, but Gendron had no difficulty arming himself like a one-man infantry platoon.

It’s entirely mad, yes, but it’s also the American Way: The Second Amendment as a constitutional death pact.

“White supremacy is a poison,” President Biden said in an impassioned speech in Buffalo, “and it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes. No more.”

Well, it’s a nice thought.

Alas, I fear that for a substantial fraction of the population, race remains a key component of American identity. Gendron’s online manifesto shows that he avidly consumed what I call “race porn.” In his fractured mind, he saw himself as a heroic figure, linking himself with mass shooters worldwide: the 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter, who killed 51 Muslims in a mosque; the punk white supremacist who murdered nine Black parishioners in Charleston, S.C in 2015., the anti-Semite who slaughtered eleven Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, and the shooter who killed 23 people in 2019 an El Paso Walmart in an effort to defeat the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Saner minds, of course, recognize these deadly sad sacks for what they are: fearful weaklings whose only legacy is sorrow and destruction.

Meanwhile, what is there to say about cynical opportunists like Tucker Carlson and his Fox News colleagues who peddle this poison for fun and profit? Laura Ingraham, also a prime-time Fox News host, tells viewers that Democrats are conspiring to “replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever-increasing number of chain migrants.”

Supposedly, it’s Hollywood celebrities and shadowy billionaires who are behind the unholy scheme.

Author Ann Coulter peddles the same line. One of her recent books was titled Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole. GOP politicians such as J.D. Vance, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene have gotten aboard as well.

One prominent Republican has dissented. “The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism,” Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse.”

Painting imaginary targets on real people for self-intoxicated young men to shoot.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Fox Hate Propaganda Leaves Advertisers Without ‘Plausible Deniability’

Fox News is rubbing its bigotry and volatility in the faces of would-be and current advertisers, leaving them without a shred of plausible deniability as they consider a business relationship with a network that prioritizes the promotion of white supremacist conspiracy theories.

On Monday, Fox held its upfronts presentation, an industry tradition in which networks bring in advertisers and media buyers and pitch them on buying ads for the next year. It was the first time Fox has held the event in person since 2019. In the intervening years, the network has cemented its control over the Republican Party, helped to bring about and then justify the January 6, 2021, Trumpist attack on the U.S. Capitol, run a remarkably effective campaign to dissuade people from taking COVID-19 vaccines; and demolished its “news side” in favor of more propaganda.

Fox’s crucial event came at a particularly inopportune moment for the network. On Saturday, a white supremacist gunman killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. The manifesto he allegedly posted online invokes the “great replacement” theory as his motivation, which posits that shadowy forces are masterminding nonwhite immigration in order to “replace” the white population. This blood-soaked conspiracy theory, once largely confined to Internet fever swamps and the political fringe, has in recent years been mainstreamed by Fox News hosts. The network – and in particular its biggest star and the theory’s most prominent supporter, Tucker Carlson – have received abominable press over the last few days, as the overlap between their commentary and that of the shooter have drawn scrutiny everywhere from the front pages of newspapers to the floor of the U.S. Senate.


While Carlson and his primetime colleagues went all but unmentioned during Fox’s pre-recorded presentation, their style of bigotry and mendacity was represented in the room by Pete Hegseth, a Fox & Friends weekend host who pitched advertisers on the network’s streaming service. Hegseth has repeatedly pushed the same “replacement” narrative on Fox, warning viewers of a “full-scale invasion” of Haitian immigrants “coming to your backyard” and arguing that Democrats are deliberately allowing unchecked immigration for political gain. He is one of the network’s staunchest supporters of the insurrectionists who sacked the U.S. Capitol, validating them the very next day as people who simply “love freedom” and want to “defend our republic.” A member of former President Donald Trump’s Fox cabinet of network advisers, Hegseth has refused to admit Trump lost the 2020 election.

Fox’s on-air programming had largely avoided talking about the Buffalo shooter’s “great replacement” motivation. But as prospective advertisers mingled with the Fox brass and presenters at the afterparty following the network’s pitch, Fox’s stars were on-air making clear that they not only have no intention of apologizing for promoting white supremacist conspiracy theories – but that they consider themselves among the victims of the massacre.

On his 7 PM. broadcast, Jesse Watters, who has accused Democrats of “breaking the border on purpose” to “overwhelm the system in order to achieve more political power,” described criticism linking the shooter’s manifesto to right-wing invocations of “replacement theory” as an attempt to “further divide this country by race and profit from that division politically” and as a “psy ops game.”

Carlson has accused President Joe Biden and the Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros of trying to alter the “racial mix” of the U.S. through "’the great replacement,’" “the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries,” because they want to “destroy” the country, and even urged his viewers to take action in response.

On Monday night, he lashed out at his critics, arguing that they were using “race politics” in a manner that “always leads to violence and death,” and invoking the Rwandan genocide.

Sean Hannity, who has accused Democrats of engineering “a quid pro quo: We'll give you citizenship for free, we hope you vote Democrat,” said the following hour that “many on the left” were “exploiting” the shooting by “blaming Republicans and conservatives and talk show hosts and Fox News.”

And in the 10 p.m. hour, Laura Ingraham, who has told her viewers that Democrats “want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever-increasing number of chain migrants,” said that while some critics say that the shooter’s “accomplices” are Republican politicians parroting the same talking points, “the real accomplices are in the media” for trying to “censor opposing views.”

Fox is denying its advertisers any wiggle room whatsoever. Its biggest stars are clearly signaling that they will continue to use the same rhetoric that motivated the Buffalo shooter and an array of terrorists before him. The Fox brass, from the Murdochs on down, have no apparent qualms about what they are doing and no intention of getting them to stop. The only question for Fox’s advertisers is whether they are willing to continue their own complicit participation.

Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott closed the network’s presentation on Monday by highlighting its “loyal audience.” Advertisers should worry about whether Fox’s programming might be driving that audience to do something other than buy their products.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Why The Buffalo Massacre Marks Decision Point For Fox Advertisers

On Monday, Fox executives pitched the nation’s media buyers on purchasing the network’s ads for the next year at their annual upfronts presentation. The Fox brass were bound to desperately try to ignore the elephant in the room: The event opened roughly 48 hours after a white supremacist gunman whose manifesto details the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory popularized and mainstreamed by the network’s biggest star, Tucker Carlson, killed ten people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

Those media buyers, like anyone else doing business with Fox, should recognize that the network’s highest priority is producing this brand of white nationalist propaganda. Their ongoing willingness to buy Fox’s ads is a crucial part of the network’s business strategy.

Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch and network CEO Suzanne Scott have ignored any number of warning signs and protests from inside and outside the network that Carlson’s white nationalist rants were dangerous, as The New York Times detailed earlier this month. They have an affinity for his views, appreciate his ratings and the money he generates — or both — and so have given him the green light to do as he pleases.

The only thing that could plausibly make them stop is if doing so stops being so profitable. Until that happens, Carlson knows they have his back, and he can laugh off people who point out that his show promotes the grievances and worldview of neo-Nazis.

I've been covering white supremacists' affinity for Tucker Carlson, and his eagerness to promote their depraved talking points, for more than five years. They consider him “our greatest ally,” as the neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin put it, because he brings their message to the masses. This is not the first time a white supremacist gunman has carried out a massacre because he shares the twisted ideology Carlson and his colleagues promote at the network — and it likely will not be the last.

As I wrote two weeks ago: “The Murdochs, Carlson, and their colleagues are not going to stop. They’re going to keep promoting white nationalism. And everyone in business with Fox should be clear-eyed that their ongoing participation is part of the network’s strategy.”

Media buyers and advertisers need to decide how comfortable they are with that. But at this point, there’s no denying it.


Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

How Tucker Carlson’s Favorite January 6 Conspiracy Crumbled

Ray Epps was always something of an odd choice for a right-wing scapegoat in the January 6 Capitol insurrection, considering that you’d have trouble finding a more dedicated Donald Trump supporter and Oath Keepers member prior to that event. But then, the conspiracy theory concocted by far-right apologists for the riot claiming that Epps was secretly in cahoots with the FBI to make the Capitol siege happen as a way to entrap “Patriots” shows how readily these fanatics will eat their own.

And now the theory—promoted by Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald and the whole “1/6 Truther” crowd, and largely discredited already because of its counter-factual premises—has crumbled completely. Freshly revealed information from the FBI’s investigation shows that Epps—contrary to the theory—had nothing to do with inspiring the initial breach of police barricades, and that moreover he had no connection with the FBI’s informants program.

The conspiracy theorists had pointed to Epps’ appearance at a key moment in the riot, at around 12:45 p.m. that afternoon at the northwestern corner of the Capitol lawn, where police had set up a barricade around which a crowd started to gather. Only five Capitol Police officers were stationed there, supported by a couple dozen more closer to the Capitol. The crowd chanted: “We love Trump!”

A group of Proud Boys that had already marched around the Capitol was there, including Ryan Samsel, a Proud Boys organizer from Pennsylvania wearing a red MAGA cap and a jean jacket. Epps was seen on video conferring briefly with Samsel. A little while later, Samsel was the first man to approach the barricades and begin pushing on them and fighting police. Others joined in, toppling the metal barricades and knocking a police officer backwards onto her head, causing a concussion. Meanwhile, the mob began pouring onto the lawn as the outnumbered police retreated back to where their fellow officers had formed an interim line of resistance that eventually was overwhelmed.

According to the New York Times’ Alan Feuer, Epps called an FBI tipline two days after the riot, when he saw his name on a list of suspects, and cooperated with authorities immediately. He told investigators he had actually tried to calm Samsel down, telling him the police outside the building were merely doing their jobs.

When investigators spoke to Samsel, he told them the same thing: A man he did not know had come up to him at the barricades and urged him to chill out. “He came up to me and he said, ‘Dude’—his entire words were, ‘Relax, the cops are doing their job,’” Samsel said.

The person who finally triggered him to attack the police lines, in fact, was national Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs, who had led the phalanx of men around the Capitol to that barricade. Samsel later told the FBI that Biggs encouraged him to go push on the barricades and challenge the police, and when he hesitated, Biggs flashed a gun and questioned his manhood, urging him again to attack the barricades—all of which Biggs’ attorneys adamantly deny.

Biggs remains imprisoned in the D.C. jail along with other key January 6 insurrectionists, including his fellow Proud Boys. He and others still face charges of seditious conspiracy and multiple other felonies. They also face a civil lawsuit filed by the D.C. district attorney.

The conspiracy theory blaming the FBI for the insurrection by fingering Epps as a key player in the riot was concocted by the far-right propaganda organ Revolver News and its white-nationalist editor/writer Darren Beattie. This reportage, as we’ve explored in depth, was misbegotten pseudo-journalistic babble built around a simple miscomprehension of both how the federal informants’ program works and how federal prosecutors’ use of cooperating witnesses functions. Beattie fumbles basic facts and then multiplies it with baseless speculation about Epps—who in fact was a well-known Trump supporter and Oath Keepers figure in Arizona in before the insurrection.


This didn’t matter to the gaslighting brigade led by Tucker Carlson and his cohorts, who paraded Beattie’s reportage to the nation as though it had legitimacy, and built a propaganda campaign for Fox News’ audience of millions to gobble up readily. At one point, Carlson even had Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas eagerly pushing the Epps conspiracy theory.

Cruz not only bought into Carlson’s conspiracist nonsense while on his Fox News program—abjectly apologizing for having called the January 6 insurrection “a despicable act of terrorism,” which Carlson considered unacceptable, he promptly turned up in a Senate hearing on domestic terrorism and demanded to know about Epps from a senior FBI official, Jill Sanborn.

“Ms. Sanborn, a lot of Americans are concerned that the federal government deliberately encouraged illegal violent conduct on January 6,” Cruz said, demanding to know if that was true. Sanborn said it was not.

Amid the furor, the House Select Committee’s Twitter account posted a response to the theories about Epps:

The Committee has interviewed Epps. Epps informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on Jan 5th or 6th or at any other time, & that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.

Nonetheless, Carlson went on his Fox show Wednesday night and claimed that Sanborn’s stony answers to Cruz’s questions were evidence that, in fact, “DOJ had some role in the events of January 6,” and then speculated baselessly about the committee’s tweet:

When exactly and under what circumstances did the committee talk to Ray Epps? Supposedly this interview was conducted in secret last November. If that is true—we don’t know that it is, but let’s say it is—then why did the committee wait months to tell us today in a tweet? When the committee got its hands on Mark Meadows’ text messages, we seem to remember they leaked those to the media within hours. And by the way, was this Ray Epps interview conducted under oath? Did Democrats subpoena his electronic communications as they did with Meadows and so many others? Will the information Epps revealed to the committee be available to the many January 6 defendants who are now awaiting trial? Can their lawyers see a transcript of the interview? Can we see a transcript of this interview? If not, why not?



Carlson went on to claim that even though “Epps is a longtime right-wing activist” who “urged protesters to riot,” Democrats on the committee have become “protective” of him. “So what’s going on here? Something is, that’s for sure,” he concluded.

As Politifact explains, Beattie never even confirmed that Epps is an FBI informant, but rather speculated broadly that he is. His actions on January 6, videos show, are wholly consistent with those of the outspoken Trump supporter he has been for years (notably as a spokesman for the Arizona Oath Keepers). And as with all of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who had informant relationships with the FBI, if Epps was also himself an informant, the information he was providing was intelligence on their “leftist” opponents, not on their own organization.

This, of course, completely misapprehends and mischaracterizes the nature of the relationship of the FBI to the right-wing groups involved in the insurrection—because we have known for awhile that figures like Biggs and his Proud Boys cohort, national chairman Enrique Tarrio (arrested on January 3 in D.C.), as well as a number of Oath Keepers, acted as informants for the FBI—all directed not at those right-wing groups, but at “antifa,” Black Lives Matter, and various leftist groups.

The cozy relationship that far-right groups enjoyed with law enforcement generally, in fact, has played a key role in their continual emboldenment over the past five years, constantly ratcheting up their violence and threatening rhetoric, culminating in the events of January 6. On that day, many of them directed their fury at police officers, believing they were being betrayed by forces they had assumed were on their side.

As the Brennan Center for Justice’s Michael German explored in a study, law enforcement has increasingly been polluted by the rising numbers of far-right extremists within their ranks—some of them recruited from within police forces, while others have surreptitiously infiltrated them. “While it is widely acknowledged that racist officers subsist within police departments around the country, federal, state, and local governments are doing far too little to proactively identify them, report their behavior to prosecutors who might unwittingly rely on their testimony in criminal cases, or protect the diverse communities they are sworn to serve,” he writes.

German, himself a former FBI agent, has a more realistic view of the agency than Greenwald’s caricatured vision of a relentlessly oppressive monster that journalists should routinely repudiate and attack. Like any such operation endowed with phenomenal powers that are easily abused, the FBI indeed has a long history both of horrifying atrocities and impressive work safeguarding the American public.

And a major portion of the former involves the way that federal law enforcement has historically targeted left-wing activists while routinely ignoring far-right extremist violence and giving its perpetrators the kid-glove treatment—the latter of which, apparently, is just fine with Carlson, Greenwald, and company.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.