Republican Party Sees the Increasingly Extreme Tucker Carlson as a Cash Cow

Tucker Carlson (Image from April 12, 2021"Fox News Primetime" broadcast)

As Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson thrills white nationalists by promoting a deadly ideology that has inspired multiple mass shootings, the Republican National Committee has sent multiple fundraising texts and emails during the last two weeks positioning themselves as fans and defenders of Carlson.

On April 8, Carlson devoted his show to promoting the core claims of “great replacement” theory, which journalist Casey Michel called a “new framing for a much older fear” that white nationalists are promoting around the world. Carlson claimed that the Democratic Party was “trying to replace the current electorate” with “new people, more obedient voters from the Third World.” Carlson tried to have it both ways, claiming unconvincingly he was not promoting “white replacement theory” but was instead raising a “voting rights question.”

As Michel and other journalists noted, the theory that global elites are out to “replace” white people motivated mass murderers who killed Muslims in New Zealand, Jews in Pittsburgh and San Diego, and Latinos in El Paso, Texas. It also inspired organizers of the deadly Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, where protesters chanted, “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us.”

Carlson’s remarks did not go unnoticed. Indeed, they drew plenty of criticism, including a call by the Anti-Defamation League for Fox to fire Carlson and for companies to pull their ads from his show.

But Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch defended Carlson, and on April 12, Carlson mocked his critics and doubled down on his promotion of replacement theory, calling it “the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions.”

White nationalists were ecstatic. Media Matters’ Eric Hananoki reported that “white nationalist site VDare” called Carlson’s diatribe “one of the best things Fox News has ever aired” and praised Carlson for promoting ideas that VDare “pioneered many years ago.”

The Republican National Committee has apparently been troubled not by Carlson’s comments but by his critics.

On April 9, the RNC sent a fundraising text that began, “Are you watching Tucker Carlson right now?” It included a link to a donation page asking people to give money to the RNC and become a “Trump Legacy Member.” (More evidence that the RNC is intent on ignoring that Trump cease-and-desist letter.)

On April 14, the RNC sent a fundraising email with the subject line, “Do you watch Tucker Carlson? He’s absolutely right.” The opening line of the email itself read “Tucker Carlson is right.” The subject of the email was not Carlson’s highly publicized promotion of white nationalist ideology but a complaint about “cancel culture.” The email read, “As a 2021 Sustaining Member, you’ll be defending conservative voices, like Tucker Carlson, in the struggle against Radical Left Cancel Culture.”

On April 16, the RNC sent an email warning that Chelsea Clinton was “openly calling on Facebook to SILENCE Tucker Carlson” and asked for money to support the RNC’s “Social Media Ad Fund” to “help stop the left from censoring conservatives like Tucker Carlson.”

This week, Carlson “invited new outrage” by criticizing the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murder in the killing of George Floyd. On April 20, Carlson laughingly cut off a police officer who appeared on his show but who declined to affirm Carlson’s suggestion that Chauvin’s conviction means people will no longer be willing to be cops.

On Thursday, April 22, another fundraising text from the RNC featured Carlson. “We can’t let Facebook SILENCE Tucker Carlson,” the text read. The donation page warned that “Silicon Valley Liberals are SILENCING President Trump and other Patriots on social media” and asked for donations to the social media ad fund.

All the email and text solicitations included links to donation pages that use a practice that raised a ton of money for the Trump campaign but also got it into hot water with many donors. In each case, the RNC has pre-checked two boxes: one to double a contributor’s donation and one to make the donation a recurring monthly one. Not only that, but there’s some serious shaming directed at any donor who might notice the donation-doubling box and might be tempted to uncheck it:

The DNC is raising MILLIONS from their Elite Mega Donors to beat us. So, we need you to DOUBLE your donation RIGHT NOW. The Dems want you to uncheck this box and abandon President Trump, but we know you won’t!

Carlson has also devoted multiple shows to smearing civil rights lawyer Kristen Clarke, nominated by President Joe Biden to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, with falsehoods.