Update (12/16/19): The Potomac Conservancy has issued a lengthy statement condemning Carlson’s remarks as “racist plain and simple”:
We at Potomac Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust and leading clean water advocate in the region, feel compelled to respond to this groundless accusation not just because it’s factually incorrect, but because it’s racist plain and simple.
Worse still, we’re seeing similarly degrading sentiments echoed on social media. These thinly veiled racist beliefs have no place in any serious public discourse.
We denounce Carlson’s claim that immigrants are making the Potomac River “dirtier” and hope to dispel his false and bigoted statements with these truths:
#1 The diverse communities that use the Potomac make our hometown river a beloved waterway.
#2 The Potomac River has become cleaner over the last several decades, not dirtier.
#3 Litter is an issue, but it’s not the most troubling source of water pollution.
Tucker Carlson has doubled down on a smear that a year ago cost him more than two dozen advertisers: that immigrants make America dirtier. In an interview with The Atlantic, Carlson told Elaina Plott that while fishing on the Potomac River he’s personally witnessed the accumulation of litter “left almost exclusively by immigrants.”
Carlson [may be] singularly poised to rewrite conservatism, to cohere the populist tenor that continues to attract much of the electorate. And yet when we sat down for our interview, not half an hour after his standout segment on AEI, Carlson seemed to trade that appeal to nuance for something else. When I asked him how one could square segments such as the one I’d just watched with his comments last year, for example, that immigrants make America “dirtier,” he looked appalled that I might wonder whether one take was more sincere than the other. “I hate litter,” he said. For 35 years now, he said, he has fished in the Potomac River, and “it has gotten dirtier and dirtier and dirtier and dirtier. I go down there and that litter is left almost exclusively by immigrants, who I’m sure are good people, but nobody in our country—”
“Wait,” I said, cutting him off, “how do you know they’re—”
“Because I’m there,” he said. “I watch it.”
First off, Carlson’s claim is baseless. A semi-annual report from the Potomac Conservancy shows that the river has markedly improved in the past ten years.
This is not the first time Carlson has claimed that immigrants are fundamentally dirty. In December 2018, he said “immigration makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.”
After advertisers fled, he doubled down, with support from Lachlan Murdoch himself. The talking point came up again this week on Carlson’s show in regards to the New York City congressional district of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). She responded by correctly identifying him as a “white supremacist sympathizer” and calling his smear “a lazy, tired, racist trope.”
This unlikely Potomac anecdote is yet another data point in Tucker Carlson’s white nationalist campaign. I do, though, appreciate the visual of him sitting by the river with a fishing pole, gripped with terror as he fantasizes about an invisible wave of immigrants storming the Potomac with fistfuls of trash.