Tucker Carlson condemned the 18-year-old suspect accused of shooting 13 people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store this weekend. But the Fox News host failed to take accountability for the white supremacist “great replacement” theory he’s peddled on prime time for years, instead lambasting Democrats and the media for attacking free speech.
Carlson opened his program Monday by addressing the spate of mass shootings across America in recent days, including the Buffalo attack and a shooting at a church in California that left one dead and five others injured. In Buffalo, Payton Gendron is accused of targeting a store in a predominantly Black neighborhood. He is believed to have posted a 180-page screed full of racist, white supremacist tropes that referenced extreme versions of replacement theory, a baseless claim that Democrats are plotting to “replace” white Americans with people of color through immigration and other policies.
Almost all of the victims in the shooting, which killed 10 people, were Black.
“The document is not recognizably left-wing or right-wing,” Carlson said Monday. “It’s not really political at all. The document is crazy. It’s the product of a diseased and unorganized mind. … It’s definitely racist, bitterly so … but what he wrote does not add up to a manifesto. It is not a blueprint for a new political movement.”
Several mass shootings in recent years have been linked to the conspiracy theory, including an attack at a synagogue in 2018, a shooting that killed 23 at a Walmart in 2019 and a rampage in Christchurch, New Zealand, that year that left 51 dead.
Carlson has faced fierce scrutiny in recent days over his own support of the replacement theory, which has grown from a fringe conspiracy theory and is now embraced by far-right commentators and even Republican politicians. A New York Times investigation found Carlson had promoted the idea in more than 400 episodes of his show since he joined Fox News’ prime-time lineup in 2016.
The Fox News host said, however, that Democrats had used the Buffalo attack to craft “a coordinated campaign to blame those murders on their political opponents.” He did not mention replacement theory or his regular assertions that President Joe Biden was supportive of immigration to “dilute the political power of the people.”
Instead, Carlson said Democrats who spent the hours after the Buffalo shooting condemning hate speech were using the attack as a “pretext” to roll back the protections of the First Amendment.
“What is hate speech? Well, it’s speech that our leaders hate,” Carlson said. “So because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud. That’s what they’re telling you.”
“Race politics always makes us hate each other,” he continued. “Race politics is a sin. Race politics always leads to violence and death. There is only one answer to rising racial tension, and that is to de-escalate. Treat people as human beings created by God rather than faceless members of interest groups… all people have equal moral value, no matter what they look like. All lives matter, period.”