Tucker Carlson says Buffalo suspect’s alleged screed is ‘not really political’

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Fox News host Tucker Carlson has distanced himself from the alleged gunman’s network in the murder of 10 people on Saturday at a Buffalo supermarket, who allegedly wrote a document endorsing the ‘grand replacement theory’ – a racist idea once fringe that has been a refrain for Carlson and other prominent conservative media figures.

In doing so, Fox News’ most-watched host argued Monday night that the lengthy document allegedly released by Payton S. Gendron – which invoked the idea that white Americans were at risk of being “replaced” by people of color due to immigration and higher birth rates – had no political motivation and that the Democrats’ response to the mass shooting was an attack on free speech.

“What he wrote is not a manifesto,” Carlson said, noting that what Gendron allegedly wrote was racist. “This is not a model for a new extremist political movement, let alone the inspiration for a racist revolution. Anyone who claims he is lying or hasn’t read it.

Carlson did not directly mention the racist theory during his show’s lead monologue. The host, who denounced racism and described the alleged document from Gendron, 18, as “a rambling pastiche of internet slogans and memes, some of which categorically contradict each other”, said: “The document is not recognizable left-wing or right-wing, it’s not really political at all.The document is crazy.

Carlson — who has come under intense scrutiny from critics such as Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) in the days after the shooting for promoting repeatedly parts of the replacement theory on his show — lashed out at the media and President Biden, accusing Democrats of using mass shootings to limit conservative free speech.

“So what is hate speech? Well, it’s speech that our leaders hate,” he said. “So because a mentally ill teenager murdered foreigners, you may not be allowed to voice your political views out loud. That’s what they tell you. That’s what they wanted to tell you for a long time, but the massacre on Saturday gives them a pretext, a justification.

Carlson’s remarks come as a Washington Post review of more than 600 pages of posts found that Gendron, who is white, decided in February to target Buffalo’s Tops grocery store based on its local black population. In the 180-page document that Gendron, of Conklin, NY, is believed to have authored, he says he became radicalized online. Gendron’s purported document does not mention that he watched Carlson or his show.

Buffalo shooting suspect wrote plans 5 months ago, posts show

Gendron has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in connection with an attack on Saturday that was streamed live online.

The replacement theory once espoused only by far-right white extremists has gained attention in recent years, thanks in part to Carlson’s promotion to millions of viewers. He has mentioned variations on the idea in more than 400 episodes since 2016, according to a New York Times analysis of his program.

Conservative media know of Buffalo suspect’s alleged ‘theory’

Hours before Carlson’s Monday show, Schumer directly accused Fox News and Carlson of fomenting hatred in the country by “spewing” the “poison” of the racist “great replacement theory.” In a speech to the Senate, Schumer also said Republicans who buy into former President Donald Trump’s philosophy are spreading this dangerous rhetoric “that people of color and minority communities somehow pose a threat…to the American way of life”.

“That’s replacement theory in a nutshell,” Schumer mentioned. “It’s dangerous and it’s a deeply un-American worldview. It poisons the minds of people who spend hours wandering the internet’s darkest wasteland. And let’s be clear, it’s a message which also found a special place in several right-wing outlets and on one cable news channel in particular, Fox News.

Schumer, who called on Fox News “to stop spreading ideas like the replacement theory on their shows,” repeated the Times analysis that Carlson mentioned versions of the theory more than 400 times.

“Four hundred times,” repeated Schumer. “It’s a poison propagated by one of the largest news agencies in the country.”

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) echoed Schumer in telling the Senate, “Ten people died in Buffalo. Will Tucker Carlson take 10 minutes to say he’s sorry for any role he may have played in this result? We’ll see.”

On his Monday show, Carlson opened the program by noting gun violence across the United States over the weekend, including the Buffalo Massacre. Calling the alleged document racist but not political, Carlson pointed out how Gendron allegedly suggested that Fox News was “part of a worldwide conspiracy against him.”

“He writes like the mentally ill he is – rambling, irrational, paranoid,” he said, calling Gendron a “sick” mind. “That’s true, not that it makes the atrocities he committed any easier to bear. If your daughter was murdered Saturday in Buffalo, you wouldn’t care why the killer did it or who he voted for.

Next, Carlson turned his attention away from the replacement theory and the alleged writings of Gendron to the reaction of Democrats who, he said, “coordinated a campaign to blame these killings on their political adversaries”.

“‘They did it!’ they said immediately. ‘Payton Gendron was Donald Trump’s heir,’ they told us. Trumpism committed mass murder in Buffalo,” Carlson said.

The host also took aim at Biden, citing a Politico report on how the president “has taken to telling his aides that he no longer recognizes the GOP, which he now sees as an existential threat. for national democracy”. Carlson claimed Biden, who is visiting families in Buffalo on Tuesday, was using “racial wounds to make his point.” Above a chyron that read, “It’s time to treat people like human beings,” Carlson invoked the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and declared “all lives matter” before lambasting Biden for having used what he described as “racial politics”.

“There is no worse behavior than this,” he said. “Any racial policy is wrong, no matter how flavorful that policy is.”

The Fox News host has come under fire on social media for not directly addressing the big replacement theory. Among those critics was Joe Walsh, the former GOP congressman from Illinois who has since become a vocal critic of Trump and his Republican Party allies.

“.@TuckerCarlson telling his audience that THEY are the victims. Not the 10 innocent souls killed in Buffalo,” Walsh wrote. “No, Tucker’s audience are the real victims here.”

Paul Farhi contributed to this report.

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