On Citations Needed, Media Matters researcher Madeline Peltz discusses how Tucker Carlson's white nationalist ideology guides segments on homelessness

On Citations Needed, Media Matters researcher Madeline Peltz discusses how Tucker Carlson's white nationalist ideology guides segments on homelessness

Audio file

Citation From the September 11 edition of Citations Needed:


ADAM JOHNSON (CO-HOST): Because -- at the beginning of the show, we spent a long time talking about the history of homeless under the Third Reich.

We don't really ever make Nazi comparisons on the show, we're extremely hesitant to do it, but we -- given the genocidal nature of the rhetoric, we thought it was relevant, and one of the things you see is the shift from -- at the beginning there is this idea of the kind of deserved and undeserved poor, there's the kind of layabout, the work-shy, the tramp, and then there's the guy who's just out on his luck.

And then, by the -- about 1938, 1939 propaganda-wise, there really was no distinction. And what became paramount was this idea of cleanliness, this idea of cleaning the streets by any means necessary.

There's a montage of Fox talking about feces -- on a very visceral level, this idea of cleanliness is so central to the -- what I view as being pretty overt genocidal rhetoric.

Fox talks about feces all the time, and I know that people like The Daily Show, I think, have even made a joke of it, but like, what is the ideological -- aside from the obvious fact that they're calling humans "shit," what is the ideological power of this cleanliness narrative, and can you expand upon that, specifically, about how Tucker Carlson focuses on shit?

MADELINE PELTZ: Well, I think that it is a justification for Tucker's vision of social conservatism above all other social goals. So, like, he got into a bunch of trouble in December in 2018, and for a comment that he said about diversity being bad. This happened so many times, I honestly don't even remember the clip.

But in January, he tried to make a pivot, and he did this monologue that inspired a flurry of National Review op-eds, about how the importance of society is to support the family, and in order to support the family you have to have a clean and orderly society. And so, this inspires this vision of purity and order, at the expense of everything else, and that that is such an important thing -- to achieve a pure society -- that it justifies violence. And that is the type of rhetoric that they deploy towards homeless people.

And another way that he tries to reinforce this justification for violence is that he goes after D.A.s and mayors and local politicians for backing off on enforcement of petty crime, like vagrancy or petty shoplifting.

He speaks about that as if it's the end of the world, the end of society, and that's another way -- using the police state to, you know, enact violence against people who are experiencing poverty.

NIMA SHIRAZI (CO-HOST): Yeah. I mean, there's no subtlety in the Boston P.D. recent raids on homeless people, called "Operation Clean Sweep" -- literally what it was called, and so, it's just one more example of saying the quiet part loud.

PELTZ: Yeah, absolutely. He definitely has a fixation on cleanliness, and this vision of San Francisco covered in heroin needles and human waste is employed on his show on a nightly basis.

Listen to the full podcast: