Alliance Defending Freedom turned to Tucker Carlson to announce it's working to prevent trans athletes from competing

ADF leaders know they can count on Fox as a friendly outlet to misrepresent the group's anti-trans cases

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Fox News host Tucker Carlson hosted extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and its client Selina Soule, a high school athlete in Connecticut, during a segment in which ADF revealed that it has filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education on behalf of Soule and other students who object to competing against trans athletes.

ADF’s decision to file a Title IX complaint is particularly troubling given that the organization has allies throughout the federal government, including within the Department of Education. The group’s former director of litigation projects, Thomas W. Stack, worked for ADF for two years before becoming a senior attorney at the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the office that “evaluates, investigates, and resolves complaints alleging sex discrimination.” Records indicate that Stack has previously been assigned to investigate complaints filed with OCR.

Soule has been interviewed on both Fox & Friends and The Ingraham Angle last February, and she was highlighted on right-wing sites including The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal. Soule’s mother, Bianca Stanescu, also recently participated in a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation advocating against transgender athletes. Heritage has hosted several panels advocating against transgender rights this year.

ADF has repeatedly used Fox News to promote its cases and policy positions; the Carlson interview was at least the sixth ADF appearance on Fox this year. The reality is that Fox is the perfect place for groups like ADF to introduce their anti-LGBTQ work, because its standards for LGBTQ coverage are out of step with standard journalistic practices. The network frequently hosts anti-LGBTQ guests who work for or are associated with extreme groups, including Heritage Foundation, MassResistance, and Liberty Counsel. Fox hosts allow these guests to push extreme rhetoric and sometimes mirror their language. “Straight news” host Shannon Bream has repeatedly misgendered trans people in coverage, recently calling a trans women a “biological male who now identifies as a woman,” and Fox reporter Greg Palkot misgendered Chelsea Manning. Additionally, reporter Carley Shimkus incorrectly identified Olympic champion Caster Semenya as trans, feeding into the network’s fearmonger tactics about trans athletes.

Opinion hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson also consistently demonize the LGBTQ community. In just the past week, Ingraham made headlines when her guest promoted an extreme book called The Health Hazards of Homosexuality, and Carlson lied that trans women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have it “much better” than “ many American citizens.” In attempting to stoke resentment against trans detainees among his white nationalist base, Carlson ignored the deaths of two trans women in ICE custody as well as countless reports of abuse in those facilities.

During the June 17 segment, Carlson and ADF lawyer Christiana Holcomb repeatedly misgendered transgender girls as “males” and “biological males.” From Tucker Carlson Tonight:

CHRISTIANA HOLCOMB (ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM): So girls like Selina should never be forced to be spectators in their own sports. But unfortunately, that is exactly what’s taking place when you allow biological males to compete in sports that have been set aside and specifically designed for women like Selina. Title IX was designed to ensure that girls have a fair shake at athletics and are not denied the opportunity to participate at the highest levels of competition. So Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of Selina and a couple of other brave female athletes, has filed or is in the process of filing a Title IX complaint asking the Department of Education to step in, to investigate, and to restore a level playing field for Selina.

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): I mean, Selina, do other girls on your team feel the way that you do, that opportunities are being taken from you by biological males?

SELINA SOULE (STUDENT ATHLETE): Yes. No one in the state of Connecticut is happy about this. But no one is -- no one has enough courage to speak up. And I haven't been the only one affected by this. There have been countless other female athletes in the state of Connecticut as well as my entire indoor track team. We missed out on winning the state open championship because of the team that the transgender athlete was [INAUDIBLE].

HOLCOMB: And Tucker, to underscore inequity here, I want to highlight the fact one of these male athletes now holds 10 records inside the state of Connecticut that were once held by 10 individual girls and were established over the course of about a 20-year period. So it's fundamentally unfair to allow biological males to step into women sports and, frankly, dominate them and take away opportunities, not just to medal, but to be at the podium, to advance to the next level of competition, and even compete for scholarships for young women like Selina.

TUCKER: Well, it’s grotesque and insane, and it hurts women and girls. And the very people who claim to be defending the women and girls are abetting this or making it possible.