No need to say Tucker Carlson’s a racist — you can simply point out that the racists think he’s one of them.
Fox News’ most-watched pundit is doing what the proudly racist hosts of a prominent white supremacist podcast do — according to the hosts themselves.
Joseph Jordan and Mike Peinovich are better known to their core fans as “Striker” and “Enoch,” respectively. With Carlson’s show sloughing advertisers as U.S. consumers protest his rhetoric, the two prominent online white nationalists used one of their last shows of 2018 to praise the Fox star — and celebrate his habit of repeating “what we are talking about here, for an audience of millions” as the “most popular white talk show host in the country speaking to white people.”
The exchange, first caught by Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt, was apparently recorded just days after one of Carlson’s vitriolic commentaries on immigration policy prompted activists to start calling Carlson’s sponsors. Jordan suggests that the boycott can’t really be about the hateful stuff about migrants since “Carlson has been saying that immigration makes America dirty for like two years now.” He went on to suggest that the campaign is really being orchestrated from Israel.
When two neo-Nazis hang out on a hot mic, the blasé anti-Semitism of suggesting a Zionist plot to take down Tucker Carlson under false pretenses doesn’t even merit a direct response. Co-host Peinovich sidestepped Jordan’s musings about “yarmulkes boiling,” instead pointing out Carlson’s jacking their style and bringing their hateful messages to audiences that self-proclaimed white supremacists struggle to reach.
“I mean I remember when I saw that segment, I was like, finally!” Peinovich said. “Because this is like, this is doing what we are talking about here, for an audience of millions across the country, most popular white talk show host in the country, speaking to white people, did this and they did not like this”
The neo-Nazis are correct that the boycott of Carlson’s show, led in part by Sleeping Giants, gained steam off the recent segment where the host said immigration makes the country dirtier, and that Carlson’s been pushing that line for much longer than anyone’s been organizing to punish him for it.
But if they think that’s the only or even the strongest example of Carlson “doing what we are talking about here [on our show for fellow neo-Nazis],” they’ve missed a few tricks. As FAIR’s Gregory Shupak detailed in late November, Carlson has been embracing a wide range of white supremacist watchwords for a long time.
White nationalists — especially the ones who style themselves as “race realists” and other euphemisms popularized by the modern surge of online “red-pilling” radicalization toward ethnonationalist ideas that too many pundits downplay with the label “alt-right” — insist that human beings instinctively dislike multiculturalism. Tucker Carlson said last March that Spanish-speaking immigration rates have caused “more change than human beings are designed to digest.”
Neo-Nazis also lace their recruiting efforts with dire warnings of a “white genocide,” either looming in future birth-rate demographics or already underway in pop culture. In two separate shows this past October, Tucker Carlson rattled the same white-erasure sword to his millions of viewers by portraying a blogger’s pointed criticism of Brett Kavanagh’s supporters and a milder broadside against “rich entitled white men” as calls for genocide.
Carlson was big news in November, after a group of anti-fascism and anti-racism demonstrators met outside his house and chanted threatening slogans. Perhaps not realizing that a reporter had been there too, Carlson overplayed his hand to newspapers and fans the next day, falsely accusing the group of trying to break down his door and leveling threats to return with explosives.
The dustup over the unseemly, unsettling tactics of the protesters inspired Shupak and others to catalog Carlson’s long embrace of white nationalist ideas. (Some other outlets had noticed the overlap months prior – especially when it turned out Charlottesville organizer Jason Kessler had been a contributor at the Daily Caller.) It took another month for Carlson to formally draw boycott ire for the commentary Jordan and Peinovich praised.
“Enoch” and “Striker” aren’t the first white revenge cosplay bros to notice they’ve got a kindred spirit operating on Fox’s primetime air. They’re arguably late to a party begun by much more famous faces of their venomous worldview; both Richard Spencer and David Duke have showered praise on Carlson already, as Shupak noted, and the Daily Stormer has called the Fox host “literally our greatest ally.”
To fully understand what it means that Carlson is using the prime Fox real estate vacated by Fox’s disgraced former wartime leader Bill O’Reilly to pimp the same lines white supremacists use to recruit members, it helps to look back at the past decade of the station’s racist punditry.
The station opened the Obama years by giving Glenn Beck a show after he called the country’s first black president a racist on national TV. It took a couple years of Beck rattling off his own slew of neo-Nazi smears — primarily in portraying George Soros using anti-Semitic tropes while assuring white conservative viewers that those critical of U.S.racism were just paid by Soros and not earnest, concerned members of their shared civic space — but Fox was eventually cudgeled into dropping Beck.
Boycotters starved the Beck program’s cash flow. Fox seemed, for a time, to back away from Beck’s overt style of promoting white resentment and ethnonationalist ideology. As the Black Lives Matter movement pushed the rot in U.S. policing into a mainstream spotlight, the station settled into a subtler groove. Coverage of police shootings, protests against police, and civil unrest in response to police violence offered a more defensible perch for the station, which could revert to stoking its audience’s hatred of Obama and fear of black people through subtler tone-of-coverage and airtime tactics.
The contrast between the successful Beck boycott and the ongoing parallel effort to drive Carlson off the stage he’s using to launder David Duke’s ideas into the mainstream of U.S. discourse is instructive. Whether Carlson’s critics succeed or fail in the end, the campaign’s mere existence indicates his network has decided it’s once again safe to air blatant white supremacy on their biggest platforms. After the passing of founding chairman Roger Ailes – who’d built the network into an empire by applying the same intentional race-baiting tactics he’d advised Richard Nixon to use in campaigning for the White House decades prior — it was an open question how a post-O’Reilly Fox might function. A year and change later, we’ve got an answer, and it’s one that makes neo-Nazis very happy.