Alex Wagner was visibly angered Wednesday night while responding to the New York Times report that unveiled texts from former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that many are deeming racist: “It shouldn’t be shocking, but it remains shocking to me,” she said.
The Times report published Wednesday brought to light previously redacted texts from Carlson responding on Jan. 7, 2021 to a video of a group of white men attacking what he called “an Antifa kid,” saying, “It’s not how white men fight.” Speaking with “Alex Wagner Tonight” guests Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of Princeton’s African American studies department, and Jamelle Bouie, co-host of the podcast “Unclear and Present Danger,” later that evening, Wagner denounced the text not just for its content, but for its timing.
“The idea that the day after January 6, when a largely white mob attacks the Capitol, and this man is drawing a line saying, ‘This isn’t how white people fight.’ Well, yesterday — the day before you wrote that text — we saw how white people fought,” she said, heatedly.
The MSNBC host preceded the condemnation by saying she wanted to “place him as a figure in history.”
“He represents so much of the inheritance of America on the topic of race, right?” she said to Glaude. “This idea of white nobility and white gentility has been used since slavery times to justify violence against people of color. And Tucker Carlson is no different in that attitude than white people were in the 1700s. It shouldn’t be shocking, but it remains shocking to me, and I think it’s worthy of calling it out when we see it.”
Earlier in the episode before being joined by her panelists, Wagner broke down the New York Times report, “How Tucker Carlson Stoked White Fear to Conquer Cable,” which, among other things, alleged that “Fox has leaned harder into stories of illegal immigrants or nonwhite Americans caught in acts of crime or violence” in recent years and that “network executives ordered up such coverage so relentlessly over the Trump years that some employees referred to it by a grim nickname: ‘brown menace.’”
“This has been Fox News’ mainstay for a long time,” Wagner said. “Fear-mongering about the brown menace.”
She then played a lengthy spliced-together clip of the network’s biggest anchors perpetuating anti-immigration rhetoric.
“That’s what Fox News has been doing for years. But the person who took this fear-mongering and turned it into a professional skill was Tucker Carlson,” Wagner continued. “The same Tucker Carlson who the New York Times reports was fired in part after the disclosure of a January 7, 2021 text message he sent to one of his producers. Carlson was writing about a video of a group of white men attacking ‘an Antifa kid.’ The text message was uncovered during Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against Fox. It was redacted in public filings. According to the New York Times, it read in part, ‘Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable, obviously. It’s not how white men fight.’ This text was sent a day after Jan. 6, the riot at the Capitol. But to Tucker Carlson, it still seemed that white men were not the violent ones.”
Watch the full “Alex Wagner Tonight” segment in the video above.