Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson has long been at the forefront of pushing the deadly “great replacement” conspiracy theory, seeking to bring an idea from the white nationalist fringe into the mainstream of American political discourse. In the latest ominous sign, both Carlson and the network’s supposedly “straight news” programming are pushing his ideas for the Republicans’ midterm platform, a development that should raise alarm bells given the long history of Fox News controlling the Republican agenda.
On the Thursday night edition of his show, Carlson argued that Republican candidates were stalling in both the polls and small-dollar fundraising because the party was focusing too much on inflation. While it is indeed important, Carlson said, inflation is not really “the generational issue of this campaign season.” Instead, Carlson instructed Republicans to run against Democrats on the issues of violent crime and immigration — or “changing the population of the United States” and “allowing people to be murdered in the street,” in his own words.
“How can you take the country seriously when it doesn't even have a border? And it doesn’t,” Carlson said later in the same monologue, cueing up video from Fox correspondent Bill Melugin, who has a dedicated beat at the network producing anti-migrant propaganda.
“When Ann Coulter saw the video we just played,” Carlson said, referring to the notorious white nationalist and antisemite, “she noted correctly that it is easier to get into this country as an illegal alien than it is to return as an American citizen back into JFK.”
The seamless fusion of Fox’s supposedly separate “news” and “opinion” wings continued Friday morning. During the network’s morning programming, Fox News ran at least 20 segments that discussed the topic of violent crime, and at least 8 segments that discussed the topic of immigration. Fox & Friends featured at least 11 segments that discussed violent crime and at least 5 that discussed immigration, while America's Newsroom had at least 9 that discussed violent crime and at least 3 that discussed immigration, according to Media Matters’ internal database of cable news programming.
Perhaps the single most egregious example occurred during a segment on America’s Newsroom, featuring Fox contributors Jessica Tarlov and Katie Pavlich. After Pavlich falsely accused the Biden administration of “refusing to secure the border,” the resident Fox liberal Tarlov actually agreed with her fundamental premise.
“Katie’s absolutely right,” Tarlov said. “Joe Biden should solve this problem. This is part of the policies that the Democratic administration supports.”
Pavlich further echoed sentiments that Carlson has pushed on the network for years, among his claims that immigration makes America poorer and increases crime, while straining the country’s housing and health care.
“And when we talk about bigger issues, like why is rent so high, why is it more difficult to find housing in this country?” Pavlich said. “Well, when you infuse millions of people into a country over two years, with no end in sight for the future, it becomes a resource problem and an impact on everyday Americans and the poorest, more vulnerable Americans in this country.”
Fox co-anchor Bill Hemmer, meanwhile, demonstrated the extent to which the network’s “straight news” coverage is also fully invested in pushing specific agendas for electoral purposes. Hemmer brought up Fox’s new polling of the top-tier Senate races in Arizona and Wisconsin, and was personally mystified as to why immigration was not currently the top issue among more voters.
“I don't understand what’s happening in Arizona, your home state. Because border issue is right there with inflation,” he told Pavlich. “If it was really that much of a concern for Arizonans, it would rank much higher. I just don't know why that measures that way. Likewise for Wisconsin, it is way down the list. Only 7% consider it to be the important issue for people in Wisconsin.”