By Ben Sales
(JTA) — Tucker Carlson, a popular Fox News host, defended a white supremacist conspiracy theory on the cable network, spurring the head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to tweet “Tucker Must Go” and send a letter to Fox News saying he should be fired.
Appearing Thursday on “Fox News Primetime,” Carlson said Democrats are coordinating a “replacement” of current U.S. voters with immigrants from the “Third World.”
“I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” Carlson said. “But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”
Anti-extremism watchdogs said Carlson’s comments echo an idea popular among white supremacists that has inspired multiple antisemitic and extremist attacks. White supremacists falsely claim that Jews are orchestrating a so-called “Great Replacement” of the largely white populations in Western countries with nonwhite immigrants.
Marchers in the 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia chanted “You will not replace us” and then “Jews will not replace us.” The idea that Jews were conspiring to destroy white people through nonwhite immigration also inspired the shooter in the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which killed 11 people.
Similar theories also fueled the far-right shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Christchurch, New Zealand. The gunman in the 2019 Poway synagogue attack, which killed one person, was likewise inspired by the Pittsburgh and New Zealand shootings.
Tweeting the Fox News clip, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote, “Tucker must go.” An ADL spokesperson confirmed that Greenblatt is calling on Carlson to either resign or be fired. Carlson’s nightly show is one of the most-watched across cable news, with an average of more than three million viewers, according to Deadline.
“@TuckerCarlson: “replacement theory” is a white supremacist tenet that the white race is in danger by a rising tide of non-whites,” Greenblatt wrote. “It is antisemitic, racist and toxic. It has informed the ideology of mass shooters in El Paso, Christchurch and Pittsburgh.”
Amy Spitalnick, executive director of the nonprofit Integrity First for America, which has sued participants in the Charlottesville rally, also called out Carlson’s “replacement” comments. She tweeted that Carlson was “openly and explicitly promoting the very same white supremacist conspiracy theory that fueled the Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Christchurch, Poway, and El Paso attacks (among others).”
Later in the segment, Carlson claimed that the idea he was advocating was not racist.
“I mean, everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it,” he said. “Oh, you know, the white replacement theory? No, no, no. This is a voting rights question. I have less political power because they’re importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that?”
On Friday, Greenblatt sent a letter to Fox News Channel CEO Suzanne Scott calling for Carlson’s ouster and writing that “this is not legitimate political discourse. It is dangerous race-baiting, extreme rhetoric. And yet, unfortunately, it is the culmination of a pattern of increasingly divisive rhetoric used by Carlson over the past few years.”
Greenblatt has repeatedly called out Carlson for his rhetoric in recent years, which Greenblatt has accused of promoting white supremacist and antisemitic ideas, or downplaying the threat they pose.
On Feb. 24, after Carlson said there was “no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on Jan. 6,” when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, Greenblatt tweeted that the claim was “blatant disinformation” as well as “dangerous and irresponsible.”
In 2019, Greenblatt wrote an NBC News column criticizing Carlson for his demonization of progressive Jewish billionaire megadonor George Soros, as well as for a segment unabashedly praising Henry Ford, the automaker and a prominent antisemite. The segment praising Ford then pivoted to condemning hedge-fund investor Paul Singer, who is Jewish, as a practitioner of “vulture capitalism.”