April 13, 2021

If you think Fox News is going to do anything about Tucker Carlson’s incendiary commentary, think again.

Carlson’s latest controversy is for comments he made on air last week about “replacement theory” — the racist conspiracy theory that says white people are being replaced by immigrants.

Fox Corporation chief executive Lachlan Murdoch dismissed calls from the Anti-Defamation League to fire the Fox News prime-time host, according to a report by CNN’s Oliver Darcy. Not that anyone expected Fox News to actually fire Carlson, but Murdoch actually defended Carlson’s replacement theory comments. The ADL called for Carlson’s dismissal in a letter last week.

In a response letter to ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt, Murdoch said he shared Greenblatt’s values and that he abhorred anti-Semitism, white supremacy and racism of any kind.

“Concerning the segment of ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ on April 8th, however, we respectfully disagree,” Murdoch wrote. “A full review of the guest interview indicates that Mr. Carlson decried and rejected replacement theory. As Mr. Carlson himself stated during the guest interview: ‘White replacement theory? No, no, this is a voting rights question.’”

It’s disheartening, although not at all surprising, that Murdoch bought into Carlson’s typical I’m-not-saying-what-you-think-I’m-saying defense. Murdoch also mentioned how the ADL honored his father, Rupert, a decade ago

In a letter back to Murdoch, Greenblatt wrote, “As you noted in your letter, ADL honored your father over a decade ago, but let me be clear that we would not do so today, and it does not absolve you, him, the network, or its board from the moral failure of not taking action against Mr. Carlson.”

Greenblatt also wrote he’s not buying Carlson’s defense that this was a voting rights question.

“In fact,” Greenblatt wrote, “it’s worse, because he’s using a straw man — voting rights — to give an underhanded endorsement of white supremacist beliefs while ironically suggesting it’s not really white supremacism. While your response references a ‘full review’ of the interview, it seems the reviewers missed the essential point here.”

The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson weighed in on Carlson with his latest column: “How Tucker Carlson’s racist rhetoric gives new life to Trumpism.”

Gerson wrote, “This is what modern, poll-tested, shrink-wrapped, mass-marketed racism looks like. Carlson is providing his audience with sophisticated rationales for their worst, most prejudicial instincts. And the brilliance of Carlson’s business model is to reinterpret moral criticism of his bigotry as an attack by elites on his viewers. Public outrage is thus recycled into fuel for MAGA victimhood. And so the Fox News machine runs on and on.”

Gerson went on to write, “Each day, Carlson gives a pure, accurate depiction of Trumpism. This viewpoint is not focused on the working-class economic dislocation caused by globalization, or even the moral panic resulting from rapidly changing cultural norms. It is an argument in favor of cultural purity, of social hygiene.”

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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