Fox CEO attributes complaints about white nationalist rhetoric to jealousy

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There are three general reactions to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s relentless efforts to promote the idea that the political left intentionally encourages immigration in order to change the country’s demographics and electorate.

The first reaction is approval. This is how members of the white nationalist fringe reacted, since Carlson’s assertions fit perfectly with their “great replacement theory”. David Duke says Carlson is “the only voice that gets some of the information out.”

The second reaction is condemnation. In the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo earlier this month, which was allegedly carried out by a man who espoused the “grand replacement theory” online, new attention was given to Carlson’s comments and Fox News reported. in the face of more harsh criticism. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), for example, sent a letter to a number of Fox executives, including Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch. In it, Schumer demanded that Fox News “immediately cease the reckless amplification of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory.” .

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In response, Lachlan Murdoch offered a third reaction to Carlson’s rhetoric: a shrug. In an interview with Axios published on Tuesday, Murdoch dismissed fury as jealousy over Fox News’ success and a product of existing cultural divisions.

“I think when you’re in the news business and you’re number one…you get a lot of heat and that just comes with the territory,” Murdoch told Axios’ Sara Fischer. He later added, “I think a lot of the noise around it is politicized…And so, you have to be tough about it.”

On the surface, there’s not much to get out of it. Featured with Tucker Carlson combining anti-left and anti-immigrant rhetoric into indefensible speech elites are looking for ordinary americans narrative – a common racist trope – Fox CEO responds: Haters will hate. Never mind that nearly half of Republicans now think that theory accurately reflects reality; people are just jealous of Fox News.

Still, it’s worth considering how Murdoch’s defense of his network hinges on the rhetoric that Fox espouses. He dismisses Carlson’s criticism as being really on the ratings, but those ratings are a function of the sharp partisan line Fox is drawing. And he calls the criticism politicized, as if Fox News had played no role in amplifying partisan division.

This first point is underestimated: Fox News always attracts more viewers than its main competitors, CNN and MSNBC, especially during prime time. But that’s because it has two advantages. One is that older Americans tend to watch more news on cable — and tend to be more Republican. The second is that Fox News enjoys a virtual monopoly as a source of information on the political right, while CNN and MSNBC tend to compete with and compete with other news outlets.

A YouGov poll conducted for The Economist in March showed the distribution of trust across news sources. Notice that Republican red spot.

It is a measure of confidence. But actual consumption patterns appear similar. In December, The Washington Post and our partners at the University of Maryland asked Americans what media they actually consume. Among Republicans, Fox News stood out.

The effect of this is obvious: Fox News has a loyal base of strongly Republican viewers who tune in and boost the network’s ratings. But that means Murdoch’s defense of Carlson — that it’s just sour grapes from its competitors — largely hinges on whether Fox News benefits from partisanship.

Then we get the other claim – that somehow Carlson is being criticized because “the noise” has been “politicized”. This “grand replacement theory” is just another red-on-blue sign.

To some extent it is, as Carlson and other right-wing voices, including Republican lawmakers, embraced it. It’s useful political rhetoric if you ignore the downsides, like that it reflects a white nationalist worldview or that it’s clearly false.

But Fox’s chief declaring the criticism to be partisan chatter is like John Wayne Gacy lamenting that some people find clowns scary. Fox News focuses on amplifying partisan rhetoric. That’s why Carlson has a job. This too has been documented, with recent research showing that Fox News viewers who were paid to watch CNN were quick to recognize how the right-wing network filtered its coverage. In 2007, research determined that Fox News’ introduction to communities “triggered a substantial percentage of non-Republican viewers to vote for the Republican Party.” And that was the old Fox News, where moderate voices were more commonly heard. former Fox News employees have since criticized the network change.

The New York Times’ lengthy assessment of Carlson’s lineup (and his adherence to the “great replacement theory”) offered a more believable explanation for why Fox execs like Murdoch agree with what says Carlson: People are listening. The paper’s Nicholas Confessore spoke to a former Fox News employee who framed the shtick in terms of ratings measured by a metric called “minute-by-minute”: “It’s going to double down on white nationalism because minutes-by-minutes show that the public eats it.”

Fox News has long fueled partisanship, using it to build a largely politically homogeneous viewer base that helps the network win ratings battles. Carlson is good at pushing those numbers higher and uses white nationalist-approved rhetoric to do so. And when criticized, his boss ignores the merits of the complaints and instead says it’s simply a function of Fox News’ ratings success and unfortunate partisan taint.


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