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Fact Check: Tucker Carlson Falsely Calls White Supremacy a ‘Hoax’

Numerous critics and media outlets rebuked the conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson Wednesday after he said white supremacy in America was “not a real problem” on his talk show the night before.

His remarks on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” came days after a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart left 22 people dead and dozens injured. Investigators said the shooter was motivated by a hatred of Hispanics and pointed to a white supremacist manifesto worrying about “a Hispanic invasion.”

Mr. Carlson also likened white supremacy to “the Russia hoax,” calling it a “conspiracy theory” used by Democrats to divide the country.

His comments drew a storm of criticism. Brian Stelter of CNN said the comments were “nonsensical.” Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post media columnist, flat-out called him “wrong.” On social media, the hashtag #FireTuckerCarlson became a trending term. On Wednesday afternoon, even the Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said that “white nationalism is without question a very serious problem in America.” It was an aside that some interpreted as criticism although he did not name anyone.

Mr. Carlson did not return a call requesting an interview on Wednesday. In a follow-up segment on his program that night, he said that while “racism is one of America’s problems,” all supporters of President Trump were improperly being labeled white supremacists. Divisive rhetoric distracted from other issues facing the country and that could lead to greater conflict, he added.

On Wednesday night’s show, Mr. Carlson also announced plans to take a vacation, saying that he would be “headed to the wilderness” to fish with his son. A Fox News spokesperson told CNN that Mr. Carlson’s vacation had been long planned. Mr. Carlson said he would return on Aug. 19.

Here is a look at the facts behind his earlier claims.


[President Trump] never endorsed white supremacy, or came close to endorsing white supremacy. That’s just a lie.

In a speech on Monday, after the attacks in Texas and Ohio, Mr. Trump cited the threat of “racist hate” and denounced white supremacy.

“In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Mr. Trump said at the White House. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”

Despite that call for unity, Mr. Trump’s critics say he is responsible for the rise in racial division in the country. Among their examples: his false claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States; his campaign statement that Mexican immigrants were “rapists”; his claim that there were “very fine people on both sides” of a clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va.; and, most notably, his recent tweets saying four minority congresswomen should “go back” to their countries. (All are United States citizens, and three of them were born in America.)


If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns of problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia, probably. It’s actually not a real problem in America.

White extremist ideology isn’t entirely to blame for mass shootings and other violence in recent years. No evidence suggests the Dayton gunman was a white supremacist, for example. But some of the deadliest mass shootings in this country, and elsewhere, have their roots in such beliefs, according to law enforcement experts, scholars and many independent news organizations.

Even Fox News itself has cited the existence of “white supremacy,” such as in headlines describing the man who drove through a crowd of demonstrators at the Charlottesville rally in August 2017, killing one.

The suspect in the El Paso shooting, the largest domestic terrorist attack against Hispanics in modern history, is believed to have posted a white supremacist manifesto online in which he wrote of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Critics like Ms. Sullivan of The Washington Post and the liberal watchdog group Media Matters pointed out that Mr. Carlson has used the word “invasion” multiple times when discussing immigration problems at the border. At one point Mr. Carlson said, “This is an invasion, and it’s terrifying.”


The combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside a college football stadium.

According to the NCAA, the country’s largest college football stadiums hold about 100,000.

Bob Hopkinson, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said tracking membership numbers is “extremely difficult.”

“Groups are either extremely private about membership numbers or they exaggerate them,” he said. “What we do know is that there are more than 300,000 people registered as users on the oldest hate site, Stormfront, and that number doubled when President Obama was in office.”

He also said another prominent hate site, The Daily Stormer, had about 400,000 page views a month until it was “run off the web” after the Charlottesville clashes.

Precise numbers aside, the center says hate crimes and hate groups are on the rise in America. The number of groups rose by 7 percent to 1,020 in 2018, and the number of white nationalist groups rose nearly 50 percent to 148 that year.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, domestic terrorism is increasingly motivated by white supremacist ideology. The director of the bureau, Christopher Wray, called white supremacy and other forms of domestic extremism as a “persistent, pervasive threat.” (Mr. Wray was appointed by President Trump and unanimously confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.)


This is a hoax. Just like the Russia hoax. This is a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.

It is unclear whether he was referring to Russian election interference itself or allegations of Trump administration involvement.

The two-year investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, produced a thick report and lengthy Congressional testimony. Mr. Mueller found Russian interference in all 50 states.

During his testimony, he issued a strong warning on election tampering. “They’re doing it as we sit here,” he told Congress. As for Mr. Trump, while Mr. Mueller’s 448-page report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” according to the summary.


They’re making this up and it’s a talking point, which they are using to help them in this election cycle.

Here, Mr. Carlson was referring to Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponents. Several of the Democratic candidates for president, including Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., have accused Mr. Trump of feeding racial division. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native, discussed the president in a MSNBC interview following the deadly attack in his hometown. “Of course he’s racist,” he said. “He’s been racist from Day 1.”

“He seems more concerned about losing their votes than beating back this hateful ideology,” former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Wednesday.

Mihir Zaveri and Niraj Chokshi contributed reporting.

Read more Polishing the Nationalist Brand in the Trump EraJul 19, 2019El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s LanguageAug 4, 2019White Terrorism Shows ‘Stunning’ Parallels to Islamic State’s RiseAug 5, 2019How the Trump Campaign Used Facebook Ads to Amplify His ‘Invasion’ ClaimAug 5, 2019Opinion | Ross Douthat: Tucker Carlson Versus ConservatismJan 12, 2019


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