Beyond the attacks and misinformation, Carlson also embraced some of the more extreme views of white supremacists.
An analysis of 2022 by The New York Times found that Carlson had repeatedly promoted a racist conspiracy theory known as the Great Replacement Theory, which posits that Jews and Democrats encourage immigration, feminism, and gender nonconformity as part of a conspiracy to wipe out the white race . The analysis found that he devoted at least 600 segments to white victimhood.
With Carlson gone, experts say a kind of conduit carrying misinformation and hateful ideologies from the fringes of the Internet to a large national audience is now missing a crucial juncture.
“Tucker Carlson often looks to relatively obscure figures and theories that are basically advocates of white supremacy and gender binary ideologies,” said AJ Bauer, an assistant professor who studies right-wing movements and media at the University of Alabama.
“He puts them on the platform and finds ways to amplify narrow, quirky theories that don’t have widespread circulation,” Bauer said. “Because of that, he has been particularly dangerous regarding the issues of misinformation and conspiratorial thinking. These fringe and fringe figures who fought to gain access to the mainstream media saw Tucker Carlson as their route to the mainstream.»
White supremacist message boards, which frequently watched Carlson’s show live, were overloaded with posts lamenting his firing.
Users of the 4chan politics forum implored each other to «stop flooding the forum» with new threads announcing Carlson’s departure.
“Tucker is one of the last /ourguys/,” wrote a 4chan user, referring to a meme among white nationalists to identify fellow travelers online.
“Bad times are coming, anons. It’s been obvious for a while, but it seems to be reaching its peak,» another 4chan user wrote.
The “news and article links” board on Stormfront, the web’s oldest self-identified white nationalist message board, was inundated with new posts lamenting the cancellation of Carlson’s show.
Forum posts usually have a hard time cracking double-digit responses, but one thread on Carlson’s news had more than 200 posts, many of which blamed his firing on an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about media control.
NBC News was unable to reach Carlson for comment. He did not respond to direct messages on Twitter, and messages left on cell phone numbers and an email address associated with Carlson were not returned.
Other prominent white nationalists, such as Nick Fuentes and the white supremacist website The Daily Stormer, downplayed Carlson’s impact, saying they don’t believe his ability to «soften up» his audience, or slowly radicalize them toward white supremacy, has had a big impact. .
Eric Owens, who worked for Carlson for five years when Carlson was editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, said the future of channeling the far-right into the mainstream depends on what Fox News executives decide to do next. .
«Are they really concerned with improving the country and avoiding these lawsuits in the future, or are they just going to replace it with another, newer, cheaper Tucker?» Owens said in an interview, referring to Dominion Voting Systems’ recent lawsuit against Fox.
Owens, who has frequently quit the current iteration of The Daily Caller, said Carlson changed markedly between the time he started working at The Daily Caller in 2012 and when he left in 2018.
«I don’t know what happened to Tucker,» Owens said. «I think the executives at Fox News just lost control and I think they’re scared.»
Owens pointed to Carlson’s text messages revealed in the Fox-Dominion trial, whose settlement cost the network $787 million. In the texts, Carlson noted that telling the truth about the 2020 election was «significantly hurting the company» and noted that «the stock price is down,» while insisting that the network should stop reporting accurately. about the results.
“They became a giant and then they realized they had to serve these really bad impulses,” Owens said on Fox News.
It remains to be seen if Fox News tries to replicate the pipeline Carlson built or if Carlson could rebuild it into another outlet.
«The question is if the complaint machine will still need feeding and someone to feed it, what can Fox News add to that schedule?» asked Faris, of the Harvard Shorenstein Center. “How are they going to replace Tucker?”