Fox News host Tucker Carlson opened his show Wednesday night with a story about the Biden administration supposedly moving undocumented immigrants “secretly around our country” on military flights from Texas to elsewhere in the U.S., claiming to have learned of the story from a “whistleblower,” and that “the administration couldn't say out loud what they were doing. Instead, they operated in secrecy. They hid it. They're hiding it right now.”
But the problem with Carlson’s narrative is that the flights were never a secret — in fact, they had been reported months in advance of his July 14 segment. And moreover, these flights had even gone on before, when U.S. border facilities were temporarily overwhelmed two years ago during the Trump administration.
Carlson has a long history of promoting the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, and doing so with the full corporate support of Fox News. The theory posits that white people are being systematically “replaced” by people of color through mass immigration, and, as The Guardian has explained, “that replacement has been orchestrated by a shadowy group as part of their grand plan to rule the world. … This group is often overtly identified as being Jews, but sometimes the antisemitism is more implicit.”
Indeed, Carlson began his show by fearmongering that “in just six months,” Border Patrol had apprehended “enough people to change this country forever,” adding that “you can’t argue … that opening the borders was legal, or that anyone in this country voted for it.” He closed out his opening monologue by pivoting from the story of these supposedly mysterious flights to warning about the “demographic transformation in our country, without our consent.”
But if Carlson was “going to try to learn” about this story, he apparently did not do very much prior research. Associated Press reporter James LaPorta explained Wednesday night that these flights are neither unusual nor even a secret. LaPorta linked to a Washington Post article from three months ago, reporting that Customs and Border Protection was requesting the planes. And not only that, but this action had taken place during the Trump administration, as well:
During the peak of the 2019 border surge, when unprecedented numbers of migrant families crossed into the United States, the Trump administration also used ICE Air flights to send families to different border sectors that had capacity to hold them.
However, immediately following his monologue, Carlson brought on former Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a frequent Fox News guest on immigration issues who has his own long history of ties to white nationalism. Miller was also the architect of some of the worst abuses of the Trump years — most notably the separation of undocumented migrant families.
But in this instance, Miller appeared to be unaware that his own administration had practiced similar flights. Instead, he declared them to be “absolutely not legal.”
And similar to Carlson’s own monologue, Miller claimed that the Biden administration had “in a very purposeful, planned, deliberate, painstaking fashion, turned our Border Patrol and ICE agencies into resettlement agencies,” using language that was further reminiscent of the great replacement conspiracy theory.
“That is the word that everyone needs to know and repeat,” Miller declared. “This is a planned resettlement — the largest of its kind, I would suggest perhaps in the history of the world, in terms of the number of illegal border crossers being resettled into the interior of our country in violation of plain law.”