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Tucker Carlson Tonight

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  • After his racist voter I.D. plans were called out on CNN, Kris Kobach retreats to the safe space of Tucker Carlson Tonight

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach retreated to Tucker Carlson's show to complain about CNN's Jeffrey Toobin criticizing Kobach's "phony voter suppression commission" and correctly stating that "Kris has devoted his career to stopping black people and poor people from voting."

    Instead of asking Kobach about how voter ID laws are designed to unfairly target people of color, Carlson mocked Toobin's claim that Kobach, a man whose campaign website cites a white nationalist writer, is "a bigot". From the November 1 edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight:

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Well, projection is of course the defining fact of the modern left. On virtually every issue they attack their opponents as what they are. They call them racist even as they denounce half the country for its skin color.

    Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach is the latest person to learn that lesson the hard way. Over at CNN, Jeffrey Toobin says that because he dislikes Kobach's views, Kobach is of course a bigot.

    ...

    CARLSON: Is there an argument that -- and we've done this topic a couple times but I don't -- I don't fully understand it. So, the idea is what you just said, if you are trying to make certain that people vote legally and ask for I.D., that's an act of bigotry? What is the -- like, flesh out that argument if you would. I don't understand it.

    KOBACH: The argument itself is a racist one. The argument is that somehow because of your skin color you are less likely to have in your wallet a photo I.D., or you are less likely to be able to go to a government office and get a free photo I.D. It's a ridiculous argument, it's been disproven empirically in state after state, but the hard left and now increasingly the entire left keeps making that argument.

    And you know Tucker, I went into that debate, that program, thinking we were going to have a cordial debate about birthright citizenship -- but as soon as Jeffrey Toobin started losing the argument, he just out of the blue says, "Well, you've devoted your career to stopping people of color from voting." It's crazy.

    Related:

    RealClearPolitics: CNN's Jeffrey Toobin vs. Kris Kobach: You Have Devoted Your Life To Stopping Poor And Black People From Voting

    Previously:

    Kris Kobach’s campaign website cites a white nationalist writer who’s been involved in the Holocaust denial movement

    On Fox, Breitbart columnist Kris Kobach lies about his failed voter fraud commission

    A Fox "voter fraud" darling and Breitbart columnist lost big in federal court -- and got personally reprimanded

  • Tucker Carlson's descent into white supremacy: A timeline

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Since the early days of his tenure as a Fox prime-time host, Tucker Carlson’s unabashed championing of white grievances earned him the accolades of neo-Nazis, who praised him as a “one man gas chamber” and complimented the way he “lampshad[ed] Jews on national television.” While Carlson claims to have nothing in common with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, he constantly echoes their talking points on his show and was very reluctant to condemn white supremacists following their deadly 2017 demonstration in Charlottesville, VA. In fact, Carlson’s racist roots can be traced back more than a decade.

    Here’s a timeline of the public devolution of Tucker Carlson’s thinly veiled racism into full-throated white supremacy:

  • Breaking down Gab: What you need to know about the social media platform that is a "haven for white nationalists"

    The Pittsburgh synagogue gunman posted anti-Semitic messages on Gab. Gab is full of neo-Nazis and extremists.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    In the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, a mass shooting on October 27 left 11 dead in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Reporters unearthed violently anti-Semitic messages the shooter had posted on the platform Gab, using an account that has since been deleted. Legacy media and companies that enabled Gab to sustain itself online are starting to grapple with the prominence of hate speech on the site, but for Gab, extremism has always been a feature, not a bug.

    While activists had alerted some companies working with Gab that the site was transparently violating terms of service, it took a fatal mass shooting for payment processors Paypal and Stripe and cloud host Joyent to drop Gab. The site’s CTO has reportedly resigned, Gab was temporarily inaccessible, and its founder Andrew Torba is “working around the clock” for the site to remain online. Torba asked for prayers for his plight and in a particularly tone-deaf post characterized the site as being "under attack."

    Trolling and harassment have been part of Torba’s business model since Gab’s founding in 2016. Torba himself was sacked from the alumni network of a startup accelerator he was a part of after he engaged in pro-Trump online harassment of a Latino, and he was photographed next to Milo Yiannopoulos, a Nazi sympathizer who was booted off of Twitter after organizing racist harassment of Black actress Leslie Jones.

    Gab was born in reaction to social media platforms that ban hate speech, extremism, and harassment, explicitly meant to provide a haven to those whose extremist content had gotten them banned from other platforms, specifically Twitter. Since the beginning, Torba and Gab’s chief communications officer, Utsav Sanduja, claimed that free speech came above anything else, and that they included harassment under free speech, telling Mic in March 2017: “Political incorrectness is a First Amendment right. ... We support freedom of speech and reject the politically correct definitions of what constitutes 'harassment.' [Social-justice warriors] do not get to define the verbiage, lexicon, culture or societal politics of the internet. Gab ... will repeal this politically correct, censorship culture.”

    They knew extremism was what motivated users to go on their site. So much that, as Sanduja acknowledged in 2017, they were looking into removing the downvoting feature (a feature similar to reddit’s in which users can “upvote” or “downvote” posts so that posts can jump above others and get more prominently featured) because it was enabling targeted harassment and driving women away from the site. (During the email exchanges with Mic, Sanduja addressed journalist Melanie Ehrenkranz in a sexist manner.)

    Extremists embraced the platform as an opportunity, and white nationalist darling Tucker Carlson hosted Torba during his prime-time show on Fox to promote Gab, failing to mention the extremism that had already festered on the site.

    After Twitter enforced new rules in December 2017 that resulted in a purge of several “alt-right” accounts filled with hate speech, users on Gab welcomed Twitter refugees warmly.

    Prominent white nationalist Christopher Cantwell -- dubbed the “crying Nazi” following his teary reactions to the 2017 Charlottesville, VA, Unite the Right rally -- posted a message for newcomers with an anti-Semitic greeting, compelling them to not “worry about the racism” on the site, while recognizing that “it can be a little weird at first”:

    The racism that Cantwell called “a little weird” was rampant and uncensored on the site, until neo-Nazi Andrew Auernheimer (best known online as weev) became the first person to be banned from Gab. weev, who has now migrated to guest appearances on racist shows on YouTube, was banned after Asia Registry, which used to host Gab, threatened to boot the site over a post in which weev wrote: “Jews have cornered the whole Internet. … And I think the only way we’ll have any freedom of speech here is if someone teaches them a lesson.”

    Instead of acknowledging that extremism was a problem in the site, Torba claimed weev was among users posting extremism to “break the guidelines on purpose”; the idea was that they were trying to goad leadership into banning them to show they would break their commitment to free speech. A Gab user protesting weev's ban noted that the hashtag “gas the kikes” “is a constant statement on here and people are not getting banned.”

    After white nationalist Paul Nehlen -- who ran as a Republican in a 2017 attempt to unseat Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) -- became the second person to be banned, it became clear that Gab’s application of its own rules was arbitrary. Despite obvious guideline violations, it wasn’t Nehlen’s often violent posts or his blatant white supremacy that got him sacked from the site. It was the politics over his revealing the true identity of the white supremacist known online as Ricky Vaughn, to which Gab’s leadership reacted inconsistently. First, Torba shrugged off what was being called a doxxing (revealing someone’s contact information to enable their harassment), only acting to remove Nehlen from the platform after the overwhelming support for Vaughn among Gab users made supporting Nehlen’s presence on the site untenable.

    Nehlen doxxing one of his critics was consistent with other doxxing operations -- in which trolls organize to spread the contact information of a person they want to make the target of harassment -- going on undisturbed at Gab in ways identical to on anonymous message boards 4chan and 8chan. For example, after Judge William Young ruled in favor of upholding current Massachusetts gun regulations that ban assault weapons, pro-gun trolls on Gab set their sight on Young and doxxed him in retaliation. Another instance of organized harassment on Gab was an “operation” in which trolls targeted progressive voices on Twitter, instructing each other to use Twitter reporting mechanisms against a list of progressive accounts in what they felt was retaliation for their own banning from Twitter in the first place. Torba not only tolerated such operations, he encouraged them, calling followers to engage in fraudulent mass reporting on Twitter in the name of causing chaos.

    For those of us tracking extremism on the site, the ways in which it served as an alternate universe where public opinion was supplanted by hate speech, became obvious. On any given day, activism took the form of white supremacy and users would fearmonger about diversity. Under the site’s “groups” feature, extremists openly organized under explicitly racist categories.

    More specifically, Gab offered racist interpretations of current events daily. After HuffPost reported that an anti-abortion activist was in fact a white nationalist, posters on Gab reacted with a shrug, complaining that “ethnonationalism” was “socially controversial,” and saying they hoped mainstream media reports like that would help “more people become white nationalist or identitarian.” On April 20, posters openly celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday, as evidenced by the site’s popular topics that day, and the reactions to the verdict that declared Bill Cosby guilty of assault were an intersection of racism and misogyny. On International Women’s Day, a sample of Gab takes included complaints that women had abandoned their “one job” of raising the next generation by joining the workforce, as well as statements like, “Women only belong in one place, and that’s in my basement shackled to the radiator; only to occasionally be let out so they can make me a sandwich.”

    The site’s extremist content often went beyond hateful words and into explicit exaltations of violence. Before he was banned, Nehlen prompted a discussion of a caravan of Central American immigrants in 2017 that included talk of armed militias, killing “every last one” and using them as “target practice.”

    Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin openly called for shooting Middle Eastern refugees and blamed Jewish people for waging “a psychological war” to push for the right of refugees to come to the U.S.: “All it would take to stop this is a few bullets.” And that wasn’t the first time Anglin had posted about shooting up Jewish people, but Gab leadership told a journalist asking for a reaction that he hadn’t crossed a line.

    Another post that did not raise to the level of crossing a line for Gab was Anglin’s slur-laced, homophobic endorsement of corrective rape for lesbians.

    However, even for someone as toxic as Anglin, unregulated speech on Gab was seemingly starting to get too toxic. In March, he complained that the trolling and abuse he was subjected to by fellow posters on Gab was made more burdensome by the site’s lack of a block button. Anglin felt that Gab’s mute button wasn’t enough.

    Gab’s Sanduja responded to Anglin, seemingly taunting him to leave the site if he didn’t like it. Anglin claimed he used to encourage “people to use this site” but that posters replying to “every post” he made by “promoting terrorism” and “posting gay porn” was causing him to stop. Sanduja responded to Anglin’s tantrum and his troll supporters by exchanging slurs with them. After a user seemingly insulted his ethnicity by alluding to a type of visa foreign workers with specialty occupations use, writing “typical H1B monkey,” Sanduja responded, “You’re welcome for the free speech, Stormfag” (in reference to Anglin’s site the Daily Stormer).

    Gab’s leadership has always downplayed evidence of the extremism that festered on the site, potentially to avoid scaring away investors; leaders once told Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill that they thought “some of Gab’s Nazis are actually fake Nazis, who are just trying to make Gab look bad.” Neither Torba nor Sanduja offered proof of this claim, relying instead on the conspiracy theory that progressive organizations were supporting fake Gab accounts that post extremism to give the site a bad image, a theory that echoes somewhat the “false flag” reaction the far-right has faced with instances of right-wing extremism.

    This mindset explains why financial pressures have been the only incentives that have made Gab’s leaders act against extremism on their site. Torba has always framed pressure from his third-party providers to regulate Gab’s content as “censorship” to free speech, going on like-minded Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet repeatedly to complain. He’s apparently aware of the ways violent neo-Nazi groups like the Atomwaffen Division use Gab and has done nothing.

    Back in August, Gab’s hosting provider, Microsoft Azure, gave the site 48 hours to remove two virulently anti-Semitic posts made by defeated neo-Nazi congressional candidate Patrick Little (who also ran as a Republican in a primary and is verified by Gab on the site). Little was suggesting raising Jewish people “as livestock,” and vowing to attack Holocaust memorials in the U.S. with a sledge hammer. After Azure’s pressure, the site removed the posts in contention, but before the site was taken offline, Little was still on Gab, where he reacted to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting by urging his followers to blame the victims.

    In an email statement to its users a full day after the synagogue shooting, Gab disavowed and condemned “all acts of terrorism and violence” but also condemned the press by saying, “We refused to be defined by the media’s narratives about Gab and our community.” In the statement, Gab’s leadership continued to take no responsibility for the extremism the platform has enabled since its inception by saying, “Criminals and criminal behavior exist on every social media platform.”

  • Only MSNBC hosted LGBTQ opponents of the Trump-Pence administration's plan to define away trans identities

    While MSNBC aired segments featuring six LGBTQ people, Fox News hosted anti-LGBTQ group leader Tony Perkins and two anti-trans gay women

    Blog ››› ››› BRIANNA JANUARY


    Melisa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Trump-Pence administration is “considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” which would be “the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people,” according to an October 21 New York Times report. When TV news reported on the proposal, only MSNBC hosted LGBTQ guests to condemn it, while Fox hosted primarily anti-trans voices, including two gay women and major anti-LGBTQ group leader Tony Perkins.

    The Times reported that the definition would be established under Title IX, which bars “gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.” Title IX is enforced in part by the “Big Four” federal agencies -- the departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor -- most of which currently employ anti-LGBTQ group alumni who would potentially implement the policy. According to the Williams Institute, there are roughly 1.4 million American adults who identify as transgender, all of whom would be impacted by the proposed change. CNN reported that “if adopted, such a definition could exclude transgender people from existing federal civil rights protections in education, employment and access to health care.” The move is part of a greater trend of the Trump-Pence administration going after transgender people, and transgender advocates and their allies have sounded the alarm about the proposal and are fighting back.

    How TV news covered the proposal

    Following the Times’ reporting on the Trump-Pence administration’s proposal, broadcast and cable TV news spent a moderate amount of time covering the issue. MSNBC turned to transgender and queer guests to discuss the impacts of the proposal, while Fox News hosted primarily anti-transgender guests, including Perkins. Though generally critical of the proposal, CNN’s segments relied entirely on CNN hosts, commentators, and reporters, none of whom openly identify as LGBTQ.

    In discussing the proposal, MSNBC hosted six LGBTQ people, four of whom identify as trans, who were able to explain the personal impact the Trump administration’s proposal would have on the trans community.

    On October 23, MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson hosted Laverne Cox, a transgender actress and activist, who outlined the Trump-Pence administration’s history of anti-trans policies, as well as those proposed around the country in state legislatures. Cox said that state legislatures “are continually trying to introduce legislation banning transgender people from public life” but noted that “we have fought those battles, and we have won.” She explained that “over and over again the courts have held that transgender people are covered by Title IX and Title VII.” Cox said, “They want to make us afraid, but we need not be afraid.”

    MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson aired an October 22 segment featuring National Center for Transgender Equality's (NCTE) Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who was the first out transgender person to be appointed to a White House job. Freedman-Gurspan called the proposal “an abomination” and highlighted that the new definition does not align with medical consensus or the lived experiences of trans people. She also noted the many anti-trans actions and rhetoric of the Trump-Pence administration and highlighted activism by the trans community and their allies who are ready to fight the proposal. Freedman-Gurspan ended the segment by saying, “We won’t be erased. We are standing up. … We are going to get through this.”

    During other segments, MSNBC also hosted Mara Keisling, a trans woman and president of NCTE; Hannah Simpson, a trans woman and activist; Masha Gessen, an LGBTQ journalist; and Sarah Kate Ellis, a lesbian and president of GLAAD. Additionally, Rachel Maddow, an out lesbian, did a monologue on her October 22 show about the proposal in which she contextualized the history of Republican administrations rolling back LGBTQ rights.

    While MSNBC turned to LGBTQ people who were either transgender or trans allies for their insights on the potential impact of the Trump-Pence administration’s proposal, Fox News hosted primarily anti-transgender guests, including two gay women and extreme anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council’s (FRC) President Tony Perkins.

    In Fox News’ first substantial segment about the proposal, Fox News at Night with Shannon Bream aired a debate between liberal radio host Ethan Bearman and FRC’s Perkins, who was also appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in May. During the segment, Perkins praised the proposal and resorted to fearmongering when presented with historical facts about gender identity. Perkins also pushed the the thoroughly debunked myth that trans-inclusive policies pose a threat to the safety of women and girls. From the segment:

    What we’re doing by this policy that was put in place without an act of Congress -- this was the Obama administration -- we’re putting people at risk. We're actually denying people equal protection under the law, because under this, we would force women that are going to battered shelters for abused women, we would force them under government policy to be housed with men, biological men. This makes no sense.

    On October 23, Tucker Carlson, who has an anti-transgender track record himself, hosted Tammy Bruce, an anti-trans lesbian and president of the conservative group Independent Women’s Voice. In the past, Bruce has criticized trans-inclusive restrooms and compared being transgender to “a child” thinking they are “a cocker spaniel. She has also defended Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple and who was represented by extreme anti-LGBTQ powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom at the Supreme Court. During the segment, Carlson claimed that the government recognizing the trans community would hurt women, and Bruce leveraged her identity as a lesbian to dismiss the impact of the proposal on trans people.

    Additionally, Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum hosted Camille Paglia, also an LGBTQ-identified person who is critical of trans identities. During the segment, Paglia pushed anti-trans narratives about biology and said that trans-inclusive policies are “unfair” in areas like athletics. She also described herself as transgender while criticizing the trans community. Paglia has made similar comments in the past, saying, "Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave." In other reporting, it appears that she identifies as gay and uses female pronouns.

    CNN had at least eight separate significant discussions, news reads, or reports covering the proposal but failed to host a single LGBTQ person in its reporting. Though the network’s coverage was generally critical of the proposal, CNN’s shows only used staff commentators and reporters to discuss it.

    Broadcast TV news outlets ABC and CBS barely covered the story at all, only airing news reads with no comprehensive segments or reporting, and both networks failed to feature any LGBTQ voices. NBC, however, aired a package on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt that included a clip from NCTE’s Freedman-Gurspan’s appearance on MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson. It also aired a report on Today.

    Additionally, PBS aired a segment featuring LGBTQ legal group Lambda Legal’s Sharon McGowan and was the only TV outlet so far to contextualize the anti-LGBTQ track record of Roger Severino, head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, the department spearheading the proposal.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts for cable TV coverage appearing between October 21 and 23 on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- as well as transcripts of broadcast TV coverage on ABC, NBC, and CBS -- for mentions of the words “transgender” or “health and human services” as well as mentions of the words or variations of the words “trans,” “sex,” or “gender” occurring within 10 words of the words or variations of the words “memo,” “policy,” “definition” or “Trump.” Additionally, Media Matters conducted searches on Snapstream for the same time frame for the same terms. “Significant discussion” is defined as two or more speakers in the same segment discussing the proposal with one another.