The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Tucker Carlson, the Daily Stormer’s favorite

Fox personality Tucker Carlson speaks in November 2017 at the Business Insider Ignition: Future of Media conference in New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Placeholder while article actions load

Research cited by BuzzFeed finds that Fox News host Tucker Carlson is the most favored commentator on Andrew Anglin’s vile, racist website, the Daily Stormer. From BuzzFeed’s Joseph Bernstein:

An analysis by an independent researcher, who requested anonymity because he feared retaliation from Anglin and other neo-Nazis, found that Carlson had been featured in 265 articles on the Daily Stormer between November 2016 and November 2018. By way of comparison, Sean Hannity, considered President Trump’s most rock-ribbed supporter on Fox News, was featured in 27 articles in the same time period; Laura Ingraham, another Fox News host, in four; and Lou Dobbs, whose Fox Business show frequently focuses on the alleged dangers posed by immigrants, two. The researcher used subject tags, created by Daily Stormer to categorize topics on its site, to arrive at the above numbers. BuzzFeed News was able to independently verify the researcher’s work by using the same method.

The analysis marks a vindication of Carlson’s apparent programming strategy for his eponymous program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Whereas a host like Hannity, for example, forever parrots Trump’s talking points — the Robert S. Mueller III investigation is a “witch hunt”; the “fake news” media is out to get the president — Carlson has consistently pursued storylines and polemical themes that please racists. Carlson hypes alleged crimes and dislocation caused by immigration; he demands that U.S. elites defend the cliche that diversity is our greatest strength; he circulates bogus material about South Africa’s alleged injustices against white farmers; and he cheers on Trump’s hard-line immigration policies.

The adoration of this country’s most dedicated racists is well documented on the Daily Stormer, though an exhaustive list of pro-Carlson pieces can’t happen in this space: In many cases, they are so hateful as to violate decency standards at The Post. Anglin, who runs the site, has issued a number of boosterish statements about Carlson, including describing him as a “machine of ultimate destruction” and “a one-man HOLOCAUST!”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson says liberals and the media are obsessed with racism. But media critic Erik Wemple says it is Carlson who is obsessed. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Could this be an unfortunate coincidence? Is it possible that these racists aren’t fully understanding Carlson’s message? No, the danger is that they understand it all too well. Media Matters compiled a video of Carlson’s pronouncements about diversity and demographic change alongside those of alt-right/white nationalist figures. The upshot is that the Fox News host dresses his version of this ideology in belletristic flourishes with a shiny television studio backdrop, whereas the other folks are in less artistic formulations in pedestrian settings. For instance, Carlson once said on his program, “Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country at a rate that American voters consistently say they don’t want.” White nationalist figure Christopher Cantwell said, “It sounds to me like we got a problem with people who got here illegally altering the landscape politically. I don’t like it. F— you. Stop it.”

The Erik Wemple Blog asked Carlson to respond to the implications of the BuzzFeed analysis. We haven’t heard back. The reason the question needs to be posed to Carlson is that he has deflected the matter with his characteristic extemporaneous brilliance when it has been presented to him in the past. A year ago, the Erik Wemple Blog told Carlson that former KKK grand wizard David Duke had spoken approvingly of his work: “HA HA HA HA HA HA! It’s so stupid! It was like, when you went into journalism, I bet you never thought you’d find yourself in a place where you ask fake questions like that. And I bet your younger self would have hated your current self,” Carlson responded.

Follow Erik Wemple's opinionsFollow

In a Columbia Journalism Review profile by Lyz Lenz, Carlson said, “It’s like, ‘Oh, creepy people like your show. Therefore, you shouldn’t have a show.’ What? How could you go along with that? I don’t understand. Like, that’s the lowest form … that’s so contemptible. And it’s, it’s amazing to me that that kind of goes on uniformly. Shut up. You’re a bad person. Go away. You’re fired now. What? Tell me what he did wrong. Speak slowly so that I can understand. What did he say that’s untrue? What did he say that’s not allowed? What’s the right position? Why don’t you explain it to me? Shut up, Nazi.”

And in a recent Playboy interview, Carlson riffed:

Does it bother you when a neo-Nazi website like the Daily Stormer calls you “literally our greatest ally”?
I don’t want to get into it, because it sounds disingenuous, but I’m 49 years old and I don’t think I’ve ever met a white supremacist. I’ve been to every state at least twice. I’ve traveled a lot and talked to everyone. I talk to every Uber driver and every bartender and every lady dropping off the dry cleaning. I talk to everybody all the time. I’ve never met anyone who’s like, “I want a white ethno-state.”
Are you saying you don’t think white supremacists exist?
No. I don’t doubt they exist. But the idea that white nationalism is a mainstream position is just absurd. I’m sure there are people who will defend North Korea. I had one on my show. But let’s be real: Neither that nor white nationalism is a relevant position to the current debate. I don’t think I’m an extremist. I’m pretty moderate by temperament.

All of which is to say, no one talks his way around a white-nationalist problem as effectively as Tucker Carlson.

Read more:

David Von Drehle: Someone tell Tucker Carlson what ‘E pluribus unum’ really means