Media

Schumer implores Fox News leaders to stop ‘amplification’ of ‘replacement theory’

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is demanding that ownership and executives at Fox News stop what he says is the “reckless amplification of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory” on the network.

“Proponents of this white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theory believe that a complicit or cooperative class of elites are advancing a plot designed to undermine the political power and culture of white Americans,” Schumer wrote in a letter Tuesday to top news executives at Fox and the Murdoch family, which owns the cable news giant. “For years, these types of beliefs have existed at the fringes of American life. However, this pernicious theory, which has no basis in fact, has been injected into the mainstream thanks in large part to a dangerous level of amplification by your network and its anchors.”

Schumer’s letter comes just days after a white teenager shot and killed shoppers in a largely Black neighborhood in Buffalo in an attack authorities are calling a racist hate crime. The shooter had espoused white supremacist ideology and belief in replacement theory in a manifesto posted online before the attack.

Schumer cited a recent Associated Press poll that found nearly one-third of U.S. adults believe that a group of people is trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains, and that viewers of Fox are nearly three times more likely to believe in the conspiracy theory than other networks.

“This should come as no surprise given the central role these themes have played in your network’s programming in recent years,” he wrote.

The Senate leader specifically called out Tucker Carlson, Fox’s top prime-time host, mentioning a recent analysis conducted by The New York Times that said Carlson has mentioned variations on the replacement theory idea in more than 400 episodes of his show since 2016.

During his monologue on Monday evening, Carlson criticized the Buffalo shooter as “paranoid” and a “mental patient,” and denounced racism and “race politics” generally. A Fox News spokesperson on Monday pointed to instances before Saturday’s attack where Carlson has denounced political violence of any kind.

Carlson also on Monday predicted Democrats, including President Biden, would use the attack in Buffalo to crack down on free speech.

“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. That’s what they’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but Saturday’s massacre gives them a pretext and a justification,” the host said.

Schumer, in his letter, noted a recent op-ed published in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, which argued “Politicians and media figures have an obligation to condemn … such conspiratorial notions as ‘white replacement theory.’” Schumer said those condemnations are “hardly enough.”

“To this end,” the senate leader wrote. “I implore you to immediately cease all dissemination of false white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theories on your network.

In a tweet posted later on Tuesday, Schumer said Carlson had invited him on his program to debate the letter the Democrat sent to his bosses at Fox. 

“I’m declining,” Schumer said. “Tucker Carlson needs to stop promoting the racist, dangerous ‘Replacement Theory.” 

—Updated at 2:37 p.m.

Tags buffalo shooting Charles Schumer Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Fox News gun deaths gun violence Murdoch family New York replacement theory Rupert Murdoch Tucker Carlson Tucker Carlson white replacement theory

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