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Opinion Tucker Carlson walks back bogus South Africa scaremongering

On his Wednesday evening program, Fox News host Tucker Carlson roared about the issue of land reform in South Africa. “The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has begun — and you may have seen this in the press — seizing land from his own citizens without compensation, because they are the wrong skin color,” said Carlson, who hosts “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a.k.a. “White Grievance Tonight.” In skewering the State Department’s position on the matter, Carlson ripped away, “State Department did not mention that, by following the rule of law, [Ramaphosa] has changed the country’s constitution to make it possible to steal land from people, because they are the wrong skin color.”

What injustice! Carlson’s allegations were so strong that President Trump seconded them in a tweet:

Too bad Carlson isn’t standing by his own broadcast. Just take a look at the adjustments that he made on Thursday night. Whereas Carlson said on Wednesday that Ramaphosa had “begun” seizing land without compensation, here’s how he phrased matters on Thursday night: “Even now, the government is trying to confiscate two game farms after the owners refused to sell at a fraction of the market price.” According to News24, a South African news website, “no farms have been seized and no expropriation without compensation has taken place since the start of the national debate about land reform.” Quite a difference, huh?

And whereas Carlson on Wednesday accused Ramaphosa of changing the country’s constitution to facilitate stealing, here’s how he phrased matters on Thursday night: “The president of the country, Cyril Ramaphosa, has pledged to change South Africa’s Constitution in order to legalize the seizure of property without compensation. That’s currently being debated in the Parliament in South Africa.” Sounds like democracy in action.

If Carlson alerted his audience to these corrections, then that part of the broadcast escaped the notice of the Erik Wemple Blog.

South Africa's land expropriation debate and the myth of "white genocide" have been a rallying cry for white nationalists around the world for years. (Video: Joyce Lee/The Washington Post)

Tone doesn’t hinge on facts when it comes to “White Grievance Tonight,” however. On his Thursday programming, Carlson surrounded his trimmed factual portfolio with the same outrage about alleged abuses and discrimination that he displayed on Wednesday. Mediaite summed up the gist with this headline: “Tucker Carlson Stands by South Africa Commentary After Trump Tweet Backlash.” Here’s a Carlson riff from the Thursday show:

So, now our elites endorse the idea of a racial spoil system, and that’s the scariest part. It’s far more ominous that whatever the corrupt and incompetent government of South Africa is doing. Our ruling class now believes in collective punishment. That is the opposite of justice.
Nobody is alleging that individual farm owners in South Africa stole their land. Instead, the claim is that, people who resemble them did and that’s enough. Our elite see no problem with that standard. That should worry you, a lot.

Bolding inserted to highlight explicit fear-mongering.

Addendum: As an eagle-eyed Twitter user points out, Carlson’s program appears to have carefully edited the tweet that Trump sent out based on the Wednesday night segment on South Africa. That tweet contained a reference to Carlson and Fox News, along with a little quote that reflected what Carlson had said about expropriations. When Carlson presented that tweet on Thursday evening, however, it was edited to exclude the erroneous information that Trump had gleaned from the show:

Read more:

Erik Wemple: Tucker Carlson easily snookers Trump on South Africa

Karen Attiah: Trump’s South Africa tweet is a reminder that white supremacy is the original white-collar crime