Tucker Carlson’s revisionist January 6 miniseries Patriot Purge on Fox Nation combined InfoWars-style conspiracy mongering with overwhelming war crime imagery. The torture porn fiasco approved by the Murdochs seemed like a stark leap from the dreary cable aesthetic we’ve come to expect from Fox, and we now have a possible explanation. A recent report by The Daily Beast revealed that Patriot Purge writer Scooter Downey has also worked on documentaries for white nationalists and other prominent members of the far right, including Mike Cernovich, Lauren Southern and Theodore Beale (aka “Vox Day”).
As detailed by Will Sommer:
Prior to Patriot Purge, Downey was perhaps best known on the right as co-director of Hoaxed, a 2019 documentary from far-right figure Mike Cernovich about alleged media bias against the MAGA movement. Cernovich rose to prominence on the far-right by promoting the baseless Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which held that Hillary Clinton operated a pedophile sex dungeon out of a D.C. pizzeria. In Dec. 2016, the Pizzagate frenzy inspired a North Carolina man to fire a gun inside the restaurant.
And last year Downey directed another documentary, this time for anti-refugee activist Lauren Southern, a Canadian alt-right figure perhaps best known for teaming up with far-right European activists to interfere with and attempt to thwart a ship rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.
Crossfire, the documentary Downey created with Southern, centered on the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests and violence that occurred after the police murder of George Floyd last summer. Like Hoaxed, the documentary consisted mostly of interviews with prominent right-wing figures like Cernovich.
Downey also directed Rebel’s Run, an upcoming live-action based on a right-wing comic book from blogger Theodore Robert Beale, who goes by the name “Vox Day” online.
In a rant celebrating the release of Patriot Purge, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones cited Scooter by name, telling viewers that Carlson and Scooter “have taken the info war to another level” and “have surpassed Infowars' greatest exploits against tyranny.”
The collaboration between Downy and Carlson is another entry in Carlson’s long history of staffing his workplace with individuals with ties to extremism. In July of last year, Carlson was forced to accept the resignation of his head writer Blake Neff after a CNN investigation revealed that Neff was a prominent participant of racist and homophobic message boards. For years, The Daily Caller, a far-right news website Carlson co-founded, published columns by Scott Greer, a white nationalist who published for racist publications under the pseudonym “Michael McGregor.” The Daily Caller also published articles by white nationalist Jason Kessler, before removing them after Kessler organized the deadly white supremacist Unite the Right rally in 2017. The list of white nationalists published by The Daily Caller also includes reactionaries such as Benjamin Welton, VDARE’s Peter Brimelow, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Ilana Mercer. (Carlson sold his stake in the outlet in 2019.)
Carlson is no stranger to the laundering of extremist talking points for mainstream audiences. The production of Patriot Purge is ultimately his and Fox’s attempt to cast those facing legal consequences for the riot that took place on January 6 -- most of whom are facing minor misdemeanor charges -- as the victims of a violent purge ultimately aimed at all conservatives. This attempt to sow mass paranoia among Fox’s audience has a clear profit motive. As explained by Huffpost’s Christopher Mathias:
“Patriot Purge” was designed to attract new subscribers to Fox Nation, which the Murdochs see as the future of their media empire. (It’s also a platform conveniently free of any pressure from advertisers who object to extreme political content.) That they are willing to peddle vile lies and bigotry for profit is not news. But Patriot Purge marks an escalation, even for the Murdochs, at an especially fraught moment in American history.
Ultimately, the Murdochs and Fox are happy to foment conspiracy theories and violence, even if it means allowing its hosts to partner with white nationalist propaganda producers.