Tucker Carlson’s white supremacy has received much well-deserved attention, but it cannot be seen as an isolated incident of his extremism. His war on journalists fits into a larger, even more disturbing picture.
Oh, sure Carlson postures as a free-speech advocate, but usually, if not always, it's part of an effort to mainstream his own radical views. The fact of the matter is he’s perfectly happy to scapegoat other journalists, often with lies, and knowingly put them in danger.
The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr provided a good look at this particular aspect of Carlson’s viciousness in a recent article, aptly titled, “Tucker Carlson villainizes journalists on his top-rated show. Then the threats pour in.” Carlson “has found fodder in lesser-known media figures whom he presents as symbols of liberalism-run-amok,” reads the subtitle.
Barr cites several examples, including the death threats and worse suffered by two relatively unknown New York Times journalists, Murray Carpenter and Tristan Spinski. Carlson dishonestly claimed they were about to dox him and suggested they should be doxed instead. Carlson almost certainly knew his fans would start terrorizing the two and that’s exactly what happened. From WaPo’s Erik Wemple:
In an interview with the Erik Wemple Blog, Spinski alleged that about an hour after the Carlson accusations, someone attempted to break into his Maine home while he and his wife were present. “It was like a booming sound, someone trying to get in,” says Spinski. “Our doors up until that segment aired had actually been unlocked.… When the segment aired, everything got locked and I’m glad it did because within an hour somebody was here.… We sort of put ourselves in the safest place we could away from the windows and called police and waited it out.”
Carpenter said he had received thousands of emails stemming from Carlson’s Monday night monologue, most of which were some mix of abusive, threatening and hateful. Family members, he said, have received direct threats as well. Though no one has shown up at his doorstep, Carpenter notified local police about the harassment.
Barr’s article suggests that Carlson deliberately picks on journalists without the clout or name recognition to fight back too hard. Another target was Los Angeles columnist Virginia Heffernan, whose photo he displayed above a chyron describing her as a "loathsome L.A. Times columnist." She reportedly received so many harassing and threatening messages afterward that the local police patrolled her neighborhood.
After The New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz wrote a column saying that online harassment had “destroyed” her life, Carlson made sure to kick her while she was down by singling her out on the air and mocking her complaint. She, too, received death threats and other harassment afterward.
During a segment attacking NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny, Carlson’s guest likened her to the Stasi, the East German secret police. The ensuing threats were so violent and specific, Barr writes, that she required armed security for two weeks afterward.
But if anyone is acting like a repressive fascist, it’s Carlson. His repeated targeting of journalists he doesn’t like is no accident but a feature of his schtick.
Even worse, he’s intimidating his targets from speaking out.
More from Barr:
Among journalists who say they have been harassed following segments on Carlson’s show, there is a reluctance to speak publicly about what happened for fear of inciting a new round of negative attention and hostility. One female journalist expressed fear of a “Tucker wave” of harassment if she were to be featured in this story.
Beyond restating the publication’s commitment to the safety of its employees, a Times spokesperson declined to comment for this article and said that “no one is available for an interview.”
Carlson has distinguished himself for his promotion of white supremacy, his deceitful support for an alleged vigilante assassin, QAnon adherents, the January 6th insurrectionists, and his deceitful assault on public health measures. But Carlson is not just a malicious, dishonest and cruel racist. As awful as that is, he's worse. Carlson is waging a war on everything democratic America depends on.
This is no time for silence.
(Carlson image via screen grab)