Today, Fox executives will pitch the nation’s media buyers on purchasing the network’s ads for the next year at their annual upfronts presentation. The Fox brass will desperately try to ignore the elephant in the room: The event opens roughly 48 hours after a white supremacist gunman whose manifesto details the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory popularized and mainstreamed by the network’s biggest star, Tucker Carlson, killed 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Those media buyers, like anyone else doing business with Fox, should recognize that the network’s highest priority is producing this brand of white nationalist propaganda. Their ongoing willingness to buy Fox’s ads is a crucial part of the network’s business strategy.
Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch and network CEO Suzanne Scott have ignored any number of warning signs and protests from inside and outside the network that Carlson’s white nationalist rants were dangerous, as The New York Times detailed earlier this month. They have an affinity for his views, appreciate his ratings and the money he generates — or both — and so have given him the green light to do as he pleases.
The only thing that could plausibly make them stop is if doing so stops being so profitable. Until that happens, Carlson knows they have his back, and he can laugh off people who point out that his show promotes the grievances and worldview of neo-Nazis.
I've been covering white supremacists' affinity for Tucker Carlson, and his eagerness to promote their depraved talking points, for more than five years. They consider him “our greatest ally,” as the neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin put it, because he brings their message to the masses. This is not the first time a white supremacist gunman has carried out a massacre because he shares the twisted ideology Carlson and his colleagues promote at the network — and it likely will not be the last.
As I wrote two weeks ago: “The Murdochs, Carlson, and their colleagues are not going to stop. They’re going to keep promoting white nationalism. And everyone in business with Fox should be clear-eyed that their ongoing participation is part of the network’s strategy.”
Media buyers and advertisers need to decide how comfortable they are with that. But at this point, there’s no denying it.