During the Semafor “Signal & Noise: Polarization & Trust in News” event, Fox News host Tucker Carlson gave viewers a masterclass on shutting down media propagandists when Ben Smith, former Buzzfeed editor-in-chief, attempted to goad Carlson into admitting he’s a racist.
“You keep having explicit white supremacists on message boards who work for you,” Smith said, “so I’m curious why you’ve been sort of fly paper for these people on your staff.”
“I’ve never had a white supremacist work for me,” Carlson said, adding, “I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a white supremacist.”
“I believe that people are not defined by their race, any race,” Carlson continued. “Black, white, Asian — pick a race. People are defined, their value derives from A) the fact that they were created by God — I believe that, maybe you don’t, I do — and B) by what they do, by the choices they make, by who they are. They have agency. They’re not part of some larger group; they’re individuals. I believe in the individual, and I say that virtually every night. Now, if you don’t hear that, or if you for whatever reason want to claim that I’m some racist, I don’t know what to say to you. I’m stating my sincere views as stated in my personal and in my professional life as clearly as I can.”
When Smith tried to pivot to a different topic, Carlson called him out for not responding to the Fox News host’s answer. “Does that sound racist to you?” Carlson pressed. “You just suggested I’m a white supremacist.”
“Yeah, I found that clip disturbing,” Smith responded, referring to an out-of-context, six-second video clip he had played of Carlson’s show to demonstrate his alleged racism. “I think the, you know, the language of replacement theory, which you popularized. The language of replacement theory is specifically the language used by neo-Nazis to recruit people to their cause. It has been — obviously, I’m not suggesting some straight line between words and actions, but it is a phrase that has been used by mass shooters. I wonder, you don’t have any compunction or regret for popularizing that?”
“This is why you are considered, correctly, a propagandist and not a journalist because I just explained in detail with total sincerity what I believe. You ignored it and invoked mass shooters,” Carlson replied. “This is revealing how ridiculous you are, and I think it’s evident to any fair person watching.”