Top newsroom officials called Neff’s posts “horrendous” and “deeply offensive” in a memo to staff Saturday, a day after they were exposed in a CNN report. “FOX News Media strongly condemns this horrific racist, misogynistic and homophobic behavior,” said the memo from Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace, the chief executive and president of Fox News, respectively. “Make no mistake, actions such as his cannot and will not be tolerated at any time in any part of our work force.”
But the years Neff spent spewing toxic sentiments online while at the same time penning Carlson’s provocative TV commentary prompt questions about the culture of cable news’s most-watched show and the philosophical underpinnings of one of the conservative movement’s most prominent voices.
While Carlson himself has decried racism, his views on race and immigration — excoriating the Black Lives Matter movement and bemoaning demographic change in the United States — have won praise from far-right and white-supremacist groups. And some of the rhetoric on Carlson’s show sounds like a more polished version of the commentary on AutoAdmit, the underground chat forum where Neff held forth pseudonymously.
“Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country,” Carlson told viewers in July 2018. Last week, he praised as “brave” the California couple who painted over part of a Black Lives Matter street mural, which he called “graffiti” that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. He has called the Black Lives Matter movement a “terror organization” and likened it to a pandemic, calling Minneapolis, where George Floyd died at the hands of police, “our Wuhan.”
Carlson has been the subject of repeated advertising boycotts. In December 2018, he said that the immigrants coming across the southern border were making the country “poorer and dirtier,” after which dozens of advertisers boycotted the show. In August 2019, Carlson said white supremacy was “a hoax” of an issue, leading to another exodus of advertisers.
But Carlson has enjoyed the protection of the Murdochs, who control Fox News’s parent company. During the first boycott, Fox Corp. chief executive Lachlan Murdoch personally offered support to Carlson. During the second episode, Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan’s father, reassured Carlson, according to people familiar with their exchanges.
Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Carlson did not respond to text messages seeking comment. In their statement, Scott and Wallace said Carlson would address the matter on-air on Monday.
Last year, Carlson came under additional scrutiny after the watchdog group Media Matters unearthed comments the host made as a guest on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show many years ago. In appearances on the show beginning in 2006, Carlson variously referred to Iraqis as “semiliterate primitive monkeys” and described “a culture where people just don’t use toilet paper or forks.” Carlson also said that Afghanistan could not be a “civilized country because the people aren’t civilized.”
In October 2018, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer tweeted his support of Carlson, calling him “the most based, interesting, and impactful mainstream conservative commentator.” Last week, David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted advice to Donald Trump, whom he endorsed for president: “Nominate Tucker Carlson for Vice President. This would energize your campaign beyond belief.”
The revelation of Neff’s toxic views comes on the heels of Carlson’s comments denigrating Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Asian American and former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lost her legs in combat in the Iraq War. Because she called for a “national dialogue” on the statues of Founding Fathers, Carlson declared that she “hates America.”
Those attacks take on new relevance when reading Neff’s posts on the AutoAdmit forum encouraging attacks on a woman he knew at Dartmouth, his alma mater, as an “Azn megashrew” whom he called a “slightly overweight Azn woman who is in her mid-30s and definitely looks it.”
In a post in June, Neff wrote, “Black doods staying inside playing Call of Duty is probably one of the biggest factors in keeping crime down.” Later that month, he wrote, “Honestly given how tired black people always claim to be, maybe the real crisis is their lack of sleep.”
To an AutoAdmit user who, in 2018, used a graphic racial slur to ask others if they would let a black doctor “do lasik eye surgery on u for 50% off?” Neff responded, “I wouldn’t get LASIK from an Asian for free, so no.”
He also wrote that the only people who care about changing the name of the NFL’s Washington Redskins are “white libs and their university-‘educated’ pets.”
The message board did not associate Neff with his pseudonym for years, but he tipped off his fellow posters to his identity when he participated in The Washington Post’s Date Lab feature in September 2017; and they celebrated when in-jokes and phrases from their community showed up on Carlson’s show.
In one instance, when Carlson invited former Daily Caller writer Scott Greer onto his show to promote Greer’s book “No Campus for White Men,” Carlson used the phrase “the sweet treats of scholarship” at the beginning of a segment. Those words are a favorite catchphrase on the message board. Fellow members of the board noted the mention and exulted. “We maed [sic] it,” one wrote.
Greer himself had already been forced to stop writing for the Daily Caller after the Atlantic uncovered his own posts for the white-supremacist site Radix Journal. (Greer did not apologize for his posts but told the Atlantic that those posts no longer represented his views.)
Carlson’s show, which took over a prime-time slot on Fox News after Bill O’Reilly left the network for alleged serial sexual harassment, is often recorded and watched by President Trump, whose own rhetoric and speeches are influenced by Carlson’s monologues.
Despite rhetoric and policy views that are largely supportive of the president, Carlson has gained the appreciation of both Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch for his seeming independence from Trump, at least in comparison with Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity and Jeannine Pirro, both of whom are fervent admirers of the president.
According to people who have spoken to both Murdochs, Carlson’s apparent independence from Trump is important as the family considers the potential of a Trump loss in November. “He is a hedge,” said one former executive with knowledge of the Murdochs’ thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment frankly about the Murdochs’ plans. Carlson has repeatedly praised Fox News for standing by him.