Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

ADL Response to Lachlan Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of Fox News, on Tucker Carlson

April 12, 2021

Lachlan Murdoch
Executive Chairman and CEO
Fox Corporation
1121 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Murdoch, 

I received your response of April 11, 2021, and I thank you for your words of respect for ADL. Although I appreciate the sentiment that you and your father continue to support ADL’s mission, supporting Mr. Carlson’s embrace of the “great replacement theory” stands in direct contrast to that mission. As you noted in your letter, ADL honored your father over a decade ago, but let me be clear that we would not do so today, and it does not absolve you, him, the network, or its board from the moral failure of not taking action against Mr. Carlson. 

In your letter you state, “A full review of the guest interview indicates that Mr. Carlson decried and rejected replacement theory. As Mr. Carlson himself stated during the guest interview, ‘White replacement theory? No, no, this is a voting rights question.’”  

With all due respect, Mr. Carlson’s attempt to at first dismiss this theory, while in the very next breath endorsing it under cover of “a voting rights question,” does not give him free license to invoke a white supremacist trope. In fact, it’s worse, because he’s using a straw man – voting rights – to give an underhanded endorsement of white supremacist beliefs while ironically suggesting it’s not really white supremacism. 

While your response references a “full review” of the interview, it seems the reviewers missed the essential point here. Replacement theory is a concept that is discussed almost daily in online forums seething with antisemitism and racism. This so-called theory fueled the hateful chants of “Jews will not replace us!” in Charlottesville in 2017. And it has lit the fuse in explosive hate crimes, most notably the hate-motivated mass shooting attacks in Pittsburgh (11 killed), Poway (1 killed) and El Paso (23 killed), as well as in Christchurch, New Zealand (51 killed). I don’t know which experts you consulted in your review, but, as your letter rightly pointed out, we are the experts.  

As background, “Replacement Theory” is a continuation of other theories of an impending “white genocide” that have been prevalent in the white supremacist movement for decades. The “Great Replacement” theory was absorbed and promoted by the white supremacist movement as it fit in with their wider belief about the impending destruction of the white race. It is also a variation on the rallying cry of the white supremacist movement: the “14 words,” which are: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Since many white supremacists, particularly in the U.S., blame Jews for non-white immigration, the theory in more recent years has morphed into a toxic conspiracy theory that claims that Jews are trying “replace” the white race with non-white immigrants. Carlson did not accidentally echo these talking points; he knowingly escalated this well-worn racist rhetoric. 

Your response also neglected to address the numerous other examples of Mr. Carlson siding with white supremacist ideology: 

  • In January, Mr. Carlson offered his viewers a full-throated defense of the antisemitic QAnon conspiracy theory. 

  • In December 2020, Mr. Carlson parroted white supremacist and antisemitic conspiracy theories by blaming Jewish philanthropist George Soros for Americans being “robbed, raped and killed.” 

  • Last July, he questioned the patriotism of two Democratic members of Congress who are both women of color: Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. He said, in reference to the congresswomen’s immigrant backgrounds, “Maybe we are importing people from places whose values are simply antithetical to ours. 

  • Days after the mass shooting attack in August 2019 at an El Paso Walmart at the hands of an avowed white supremacist, Mr. Carlson suggested that white supremacy in America was “not a real problem.” In January 2021 he again questioned whether white supremacy was even real, saying, “So again, what is a white supremacist? You might be surprised to learn just how broad the definition for that has become.” 

  • In December 2018, Mr. Carlson suggested immigrants make the U.S. “dirtier.” 

  • Carlson has attacked ethnic diversity in this country, saying, in 2018, that it was “radically and permanently” changing America for the worse. He has also claimed that immigration makes the country “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.” 

  • Past guests on his show have included Pete D’Abrosca, who has expressed sympathy for alt-right leaders; British commentator Katie Hopkins, who was banned from Twitter for violating its hateful content policy; and U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, whom he defended for tweeting that America could not “restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” 

When Mr. Carlson says, “No country can import large numbers of people who hate it and expect to survive,” he paints the plight of the white race as existential to his audience, telling them to view their neighbors as enemies and to fight against them for survival.  

When Mr. Carlson attacked the media for highlighting the replacement tweets of disgraced Representative Steve King, Fox didn’t act. When 23 people were killed in El Paso, shot by an avowedly white supremacist gunman trying to prevent “a Hispanic invasion” of the state, Mr. Carlson acted as an apologist, claiming that white supremacy in America was “not a real problem” and that the accusations against it were a “hoax.” Fox still didn’t act.  

On Thursday Mr. Carlson lifted the already thin veil and embraced a foundational theory of white supremacy. At a time of intense polarization, this kind of rhetoric galvanizes extremists and lights the fire of violence. As a news organization with a responsibility to the public and as a corporation with a responsibility to its shareholders, it is time for you to act. 

Sincerely, 

Jonathan A. Greenblatt
CEO and National Director

Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

More from this Section