The Fox News host complained Monday that President Joe Biden had done nothing but sow division and rage by highlighting the nation’s urgent need to confront extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
Carlson seemed to take this call to action personally.
“Huh, that wasn’t the deal,” Carlson said. “We got rid of the orange man and you’re still calling me racist? Why are you doing that? Why aren’t you trying to unite the country?”
Then, Carlson showed viewers a CNN segment about disinformation and hate on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” CNN’s guest, former Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, said it was important to combat rhetoric like Carlson’s and pointed to proposed legislation that could de-platform people who spout falsehoods that cause damage and violence.
“There ought to be something done about it,” Cameron told CNN. “And the administration is beginning to actually make a move on that.”
After airing the clip, Carlson told his viewers that Cameron had called for “this show to be sent to prison because that’s now the fair penalty for disagreeing with Joe Biden.”
(That didn’t happen. Cameron used an analogy about being arrested for screaming fire in a crowded movie house to illustrate that there should be legal consequences for false rhetoric that intentionally causes harm).
“Rhetoric has its own internal logic. You’ve experienced it, you can talk yourself into things,” Carlson said. “We’ve all done that. Democrats are doing it right now.”
And then, the kicker:
“It’s scary. It is time to pull back. It is time to de-escalate. Otherwise this is going to get really ugly, really soon,” he said.
Carlson’s show became a topic of discussion on CNN and other networks because one of its common themes was purportedly echoed by the mass shooter who killed 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, is accused of opening fire on patrons of a supermarket in a Black neighborhood after writing a racist online manifesto that repeatedly referred to the great ”replacement theory” that Carlson often peddles on his show.
The theory, popular among white supremacists, holds that Democrats are replacing white Americans with people of color through immigration policies in order to change voting demographics in their favor. Carlson talked about it on more than 400 episodes.