Every Fox News advertiser bears responsibility for Tucker Carlson’s bigoted replacement theory rant

Tucker Carlson with advertiser logos

Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters 

Update (4/12/21): Like clockwork, the Murdochs have emerged to express support for Carlson. In a letter responding to the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt, who had called on Fox to fire the host, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch dismissed the complaint and falsely claimed that “a full review of the guest interview indicates that Mr. Carlson decried and rejected replacement theory.”

Tucker Carlson is the face of Fox News. He hosts its most-watched show, his commentary is regularly injected into programs up and down the Fox lineup, and he is the linchpin of the network’s expansion of its streaming service, all thanks to the eager patronage of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.

On Thursday night, Carlson trafficked in an ugly white nationalist conspiracy theory with a bloody history. “I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” Carlson sneered. “But they become hysterical because that's what's happening actually. Let's just say it: That's true.” 

Carlson’s comments echo the manifestos left behind by the white supremacist perpetrators of mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas, as well as the chants of marching white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virgina. All were motivated by the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which posits that a globalist cabal is systematically “replacing” white people with people of color through mass immigration.

Every Fox News advertiser bears responsibility for the beaming of this vile rhetoric to millions of people, whether they run their commercials on Carlson’s show or not. 

Major advertisers have largely abandoned Carlson’s program because of his tendency to mainstream white nationalist talking points like the “great replacement” theory (the show’s biggest supporter is a right-wing pillow company). Fox encourages advertisers to instead place their spots on the network’s other programming, suggesting that their brands will be safe from association with its prime-time demagogues.

Fox has repeatedly violated that deal. Carlson’s latest rant came not on his own program, but on Fox News Primetime, the network’s 7 p.m. right-wing opinion show. Alongside Carlson’s interview, Fox aired advertisements for blue-chip companies like Amazon, Chevron, Energizer, Farmers Insurance, Ford, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Liberty Mutual, Novartis, and USAA.

These companies have likely blacklisted Carlson’s own show from their advertisements. But because Carlson is so thoroughly incorporated into Fox’s programming, that does not suffice.

Fox recently launched Tucker Carlson Today, a thrice-weekly show on its Fox Nation streaming service featuring the host. Unbound by the presence of advertisers, Carlson has used that platform to call trans people “a challenge to the perpetuation of the species” and promote warnings about the purported danger posed by the coronavirus vaccines.

To bolster that program and increase Fox Nation signups, Carlson has been on a tour of other Fox programs from both the putative “news side” and “opinion side” over the past 10 days, appearing on Fox & Friends, The Ingraham Angle, Outnumbered, Gutfeld!, and America’s Newsroom before last night’s Fox News Primetime interview. 

His expanded role at the network means that every Fox advertiser is propping him up. Their dollars are supporting what Carlson’s own colleagues admit is “a white supremacist cell inside the top cable network in America.”