Media Matters’ Nikki McCann Ramírez: Fox’s Tucker Carlson makes the great replacement conspiracy theory “more accessible”

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Citation From the May 16, 2022, edition of Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN (HOST): For more, in addition to Professor Kendi, we're joined in Washington, D.C., by Nikki McCann Ramírez, associate research director at Media Matters for America. Nikki, thanks so much for being with us. As we talk about what motivated this 18-year-old white supremacist, talk about the great replacement theory, where it came from, and what Tucker Carlson is doing with it, and how it's being weaponize by everyone from the New York Congress member Elise Stefanik, to the senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson, Congressman Perry, and more. 

NIKKI MCCANN RAMÍREZ (ASSOCIATE RESEARCH DIRECTOR, MEDIA MATTERS): Yes, good morning. Thank you so much for having me on. The great replacement conspiracy theory has existed for decades. It is a subset of a larger conspiracy known as the white replacement or white genocide conspiracy theory. And it really came into a renewed era of prominence in the last decade, with a period of acceleration in the last three to four years. In 2012, a French writer published a book called Le Grand Replacement, and what it essentially argues is that there is a cabal comprised typically of elites, Jewish people — because this is fundamentally an antisemitic conspiracy theory — and media figures who are using immigration, birth rates, and multiculturalism to eliminate or replace the white race. This theory baselessly makes these accusations of what are essentially natural or cyclical changes in demographics. And what it does is create a dynamic where believers view immigrants and nonwhite people as an existential threat, not only to themselves physically but to their position in society. And importantly, this theory wants believers to act against their supposed replacement. 

So when people like Tucker Carlson present a ready-for-cable version of the theory, it makes more extreme versions of it more accessible to audiences who would have never encountered it, or would have never really thought about it. And if people believe in portions of the theory, like the idea that immigrants are being quote-unquote “imported” to replace them demographically, it becomes easier to tack on more extreme versions of the theory and fold them into their beliefs.