Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program “may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful,” according to a New York Times series published Saturday.
Investigative reporter Nicholas Confessore’s three-part series “American Nationalist” investigates how the right-wing host seized upon the “white fear” and white nationalism stoked by the Trump administration to rack up ratings.
The series begins with selections from Carlson’s “encyclopedia of provocations,” citing his remarks about immigrants, Black Lives Matter protesters and refugees. It also dives into his ardent defense of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol, as well as Vladimir Putin throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
An analysis of 1,150 episodes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” revealed how Carlson has popularized “dog-whistle” terms like “legacy Americans” that had once been relegated to white nationalist publications.
As part of his deep dive into Carlson’s “on-air technique” and rise to the top, Confessore spoke to current and former Fox employees who give the impression that Carlson is invincible, answering only to the owners of parent company News Corp.
“Outside Fox, Mr. Carlson is bandied about as a potential candidate for president,” Confessore, who is also an MSNBC political analyst, writes. “Inside the network, he answers solely to the Murdochs themselves.”
The article continues, “With seeming impunity, Mr. Carlson has used his broadcast to attack Fox’s own news coverage helping drive some journalists off the air and others, like the veteran Fox anchor Shepard Smith, to leave the network entirely. In Australia, the editors of some Murdoch-owned newspapers watch Mr. Carlson’s show religiously, believing it provides clues to Mr. Murdoch’s own views. According to former senior Fox employees, Mr. Carlson boasts of rarely speaking with Fox’s chief executive, Suzanne Scott, but talking or texting regularly with Mr. Murdoch. And in an extraordinary departure from the old Fox code, Mr. Carlson is exempt from the network’s fearsome media relations department, which under Roger Ailes, Fox’s founder, served to both defend the channel’s image and keep its talent in line.”
While Carlson declined to be interviewed for the series, he addressed it on Thursday’s episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Of that segment, Confessore writes that Carlson “called journalists at the newspaper ‘obedient little establishment defenders’ and asked: ‘Why do they keep calling us racist? Well, to make us shut up, obviously.’”
Justin Wells, Sr. EP, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and VP of Tucker Carlson Digital Products said in a statement: “Tucker Carlson programming embraces diversity of thought and presents various points of view in an industry where contrarian thought and the search for truth are often ignored. Stories in ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ broadcasts and ‘Tucker Carlson Originals’ documentaries undergo a rigorous editorial process. We’re also proud of our ongoing original reporting at a time when most in the media amplify only one point of view.”
Read the full report here.