"Race-baiting filth": Carlson criticized for claiming a Black Lives Matter "mob" will "come for you"

"Black Lives Matter is becoming more powerful by the hour and they know it," Carlson warns his mostly white viewers

Published June 9, 2020 7:26PM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Tucker Carlson (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Fox News host Tucker McNear Swanson Carlson, who recently dubbed the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody "a form of tyranny" after earlier calling white supremacy a "hoax," kicked off his primetime program Monday with a new racially-charged screed against the Black Lives Matter "riots."

The rant, during which the host told his mostly white viewers that the social justice movement was "definitely not about black lives" and to "remember that when they come for you," lasted nearly 30 minutes, or about 75% of the show's on-air time.

Carlson, whose stepmother is an heir to the Swanson frozen-food empire, opened by telling his audience that mounting calls to defund the police — a movement to dramatically reduce the size and authority of police forces and either supplement them with community-led public safety or dissolve them entirely — were "wild-eyed craziness, flat-earth stuff" that would result in "a woke militia policing our cities, enforcing Democratic Party orthodoxy."

On Sunday, nine Minneapolis City Council members — a veto-proof majority — announced their commitment to defund and dismantle the city's police department. Though the action would likely require a public vote, the council members said they were "taking intermediate steps toward ending" the force through the budget process.

Carlson, whose rant would go on to make #TuckerCarlsonIsARacist trend on Twitter, said such ideas were akin to "rule in the Third World" and an "attempt to bring it here."

"Imagine if the diversity and inclusion department at Brown University had the power to arrest you," Carlson, who attended St. George's boarding school about 30 miles east in Newport, R.I., said. "Imagine if the Black Lives Matter rioters had weapons and immunity from prosecution. That's what they are talking about: partisan law enforcement. And partisan law enforcement, incidentally, is hardly without precedent. In fact, it's the rule in the Third World. This is an attempt to bring it here."

Carlson, who is worth approximately $20 million and pockets a reported $6 million a year, then moved up the conspiracy theory food-chain to baselessly speculate about "finance moguls" bankrolling the movement — such as Mitt Romney, who voiced his support for the movement and was rebuked by President Donald Trump for participating in a march over the weekend.

"In an environment like this, most people get the message very fast. And the weak ones are quick to join in — just like the good little red guards, they've always been underneath it all. Here is Mitt on the march," Carlson said, cutting to video of Romney.

"Mitt just wants to make sure that Americans understand — get it through their thick heads — that black lives matter. As if Americans didn't know that," said Carlson, who moments later would go on to claim that Black Lives Matter movement was not reflective of its own name. 

"But accusing your entire country of racism turns out to be a pretty small price for someone like Mitt Romney," he added. "What Romney's really worried about — what all the finance moguls funding this movement are worried about — is that someone somewhere will ask the obvious questions."

"How much have you, Mitt Romney, personally made? How rich have you become by sending jobs overseas — working-class jobs — by charging obscene interest rates? And by otherwise harming poor and Black communities economically?" Carlson asked.

"The complicity of people like Mitt Romney gives groups like Black Lives Matter strength," Carlson continued, undaunted. "Black Lives Matter is becoming more powerful by the hour, and they know it."

Carlson, who turned to journalism after his application to work at the CIA was denied, said he could not make sense of the "blurry" protest movement except that it "has very little to do with black lives." He then warned of an unspecified threat.

"This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through, but it is definitely not about black lives," he fumed. "And remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will. Anyone who has ever been subjected to the rage of the mob knows the feeling. It's like being swarmed by hornets. You cannot think clearly."

While right-wing pundits gave the performance rave reviews, others pointed to what they saw as openly racist invective.

"In these uncertain times, we can always count on human bowtie @TuckerCarlson to take a quick break from sailboating in Maine to broadcast race-baiting filth into peoples' parents' living rooms, inciting fear and hatred of a civil rights movement," "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi tweeted.

The rhetoric was so bare that Fox News was forced to attempt to clarify what Carlson had "clearly" meant.

"Tucker's warning about 'when they come for you' was clearly referring to Democratic leaders and inner-city politicians," a Fox News spokesperson told The Washington Post in an email.

Carlson closed out his monologue by predicting that "we will look back at what we just saw in horror and disbelief."

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

MORE FROM Roger Sollenberger

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Black Lives Matter Fox News George Floyd Racism Tucker Carlson Tv White Supremacy