The Dangers of Ignoring Tucker Carlson – Opinion

Aidan Barney, Editor

On February 20th 2023, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy decided to release 41,000 hours of footage from the day of January 6th. The way he decided to go about releasing it was met with scrutiny as he decided to give the footage to Fox News Commentator Tucker Carlson. Tucker is often featured in headlines for whatever the latest absurd thing he’s said. It can often become routine and expected, but underneath the ridiculous headlines are truly dangerous ideas being amplified to a nationwide level.

Given that perspective, I believe it’s important for us to take time to better understand what beliefs Tucker’s show promotes and how those beliefs can be dangerous.


Authoritarian Talking Points

Tucker Carlson has frequently used his platform to legitimize people or places that are authoritarian, most notably his strange admiration of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia.  In fact in February, just before the Russian invasion into Ukraine, he said, “Democrats in Washington have told you, you have a patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a mandate. Anything less than hatred for Putin is treason.” Here he’s implying that our politicians advocating against an autocrat means that they are trying to censor anyone who doesn’t hate Putin. In actuality, the very person that he appears to have some form of affection towards has done that very thing. 

In 2021 Putin faced opposition from a man named Alexei Navalny. In response to this, Navalny was imprisoned in February 2021 for 2 and half years and his sentence was lengthened with an additional 9 years in March 2022. So while Tucker rages on about the U.S supposedly censoring people who aren’t against Putin, the Russian government has actually been doing this to people who do hate Putin. 

While these tendencies are concerning enough,  Tucker goes even further by sowing seeds of doubt about the attempted coup that took place on January 6th 2021 at the Capitol. 

Ever since the attempted insurrection occurred, Tucker has been relentless in his efforts to downplay the severity of the event. Even as recently as the house speaker votes, Tucker was continuing to do so on his show on the 2 year anniversary of the event, instead of honoring the capitol police who sought to protect our nation’s democracy from people who sought to destroy it. Tucker went on to not condemn the rioters, but condemn a police officer who shot one of the insurrectionists, when the police officer was obviously just trying to defend the building he was supposed to protect. He goes on to call House Minority leader Hakeem Jefferies a liar for saying that 5 officers died on January 6th. He claims that no police died that day except one, Officer Brian Sicknick, who he says was proven to not be connected with January 6th. However, what he leaves out is the fact that the medical examiner did in fact say that the events that transpired had an effect on his condition. Not to mention that more than just that officer died due to January 6th as 4 other officers committed suicide as a result. 

Tucker then goes on to promote a popular conspiracy theory regarding the event that a man named Ray Epps had spurred on the crowd to begin the riot. Tucker glosses over the fact that Ray Epps was indeed not encouraging violence as body cam footage from the capitol police showed him asking how he could possibly help them. He then proceeds to say that Ray Epps was secretly a federal agent again promoting a dangerous conspiracy to his audience. In the end Tucker makes it clear he believes the tragedy of January 6th is not that it happened but that it failed to succeed. From his endorsements of conspiracy theories surrounding the event and coddling participants he’s made it clear he preferred an authoritarian coup to a government he does not support that was lawfully elected.


White Supremacy

Tucker also has a history of promoting conspiracies and ideas that are inherently linked to white supremacy. On his show in early 2022 Tucker promoted a white nationalist conspiracy called the Great Replacement Theory saying, “They can embrace the issues the middle class cares about, or they can import an entirely new electorate from the Third World and change the demographics of the U.S. so completely they’ll never lose again. Democrats know if they import enough new voters, they’ll be able to run the country forever. Dramatic demographic change means many Americans don’t recognize where they grew up.” 

The great replacement theory revolves around the idea that the current white population is being replaced due to rapid demographic change and declining birth rate. The theory also suggests that there’s some greater force behind the supposed replacement that’s actively trying to get rid of the white people living there. 

In this quote Tucker pushes the idea that the Democratic Party is actively trying to get rid of the “middle class” by supposedly importing migrants from other countries to get rid of the “working class”. I believe it’s clear that Tucker is using the phrase working class as a synonym for the word white, as his spiel portrayed more diversity in America as a direct threat to the working class. This is the exact argument the great replacement theory makes, just if you were to replace the words working class with the words white people. Recently on January 17th of this year Tucker again expressed these types of beliefs when he appeared to lament the end of Apartheid in South Africa. Saying of South Africa when criticizing Joe Biden’s Judicial Policy “a country we never talk about because no one wants to admit what’s happened there over the past 29 years”. Apartheid involved the segregation of not just public facilities and social events but also housing and employment by race. Apartheid ended in 1994, 29 years ago.

So when Tucker laments the period after Apartheid in South Africa, it sends a message that he believes that the world would be better off if we were to have a system like Apartheid where white people are inherently more powerful than those of other races. 

While there’s no proof that Tucker himself is a white supremacist there is proof that he sounds like one. In 2019 Derek Black, a former white supremacist whose father founded the oldest online white supremacist website Stormfront said this regarding Tucker’s show: “It’s really, really alarming that my family watches Tucker Carlson show once and then watches it on the replay because they feel that he is making the white nationalist talking points better than they have and they’re trying to get some tips on how to advance it.” I believe that this quote makes it clear that while Tucker may not be a white supremacist himself he is certainly making the points that they themselves want to make to the world.


Why Should We Care?

To put it simply we should care because Tucker’s show is extremely popular. In 2022 Tucker Carlson Tonight was the second highest rated cable news program and averaged a 3.3 million viewership. He’s also the number 1 cable news show in terms of viewership by the younger 25-54 demographic. Everyday millions of people watch Tucker Carlson express these beliefs and many start to believe him. Nobody looks for a known white supremacist website, and thinks, “I’m not a white supremacist.” But millions of people watch Tucker and do think that. He masks these beliefs well enough to make them digestible for the public to be able to latch onto. That’s why we should care. So many people watch Tucker without being aware of his playbook and are led to dangerous beliefs. So it is of the utmost importance that we make sure that we are aware of what he’s actually doing and try to make sure others are aware.