Fox News host Tucker Carlson hit back against outcry from lawmakers and journalists over the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 49 people dead at two mosques.
In a monologue aired hours after the attack, Carlson said it was “absurd” that “left-wing” commentators were “working hard to tie [the shooter] to conservatives in the United States” by discussing the 74-page manifesto that names and praises some prominent American conservative figures, including President Donald Trump. Carlson completely ignored the white supremacist message that was in the suspected shooter’s manifesto.
Though the manifesto connected to Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian man who claimed responsibility for the attacks, in one part praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” Carlson insisted the shooter’s ideology have “nothing to do with anyone in the United States.” The manifesto also opened with a section arguing in favor of the “white genocide” conspiracy theory, which was the foundation of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in 2017 that claimed the life of a counter-protester, but Carlson also failed to mention this.
Carlson then warned his audience of the “ruling class” who might seek to “seize this moment” and attack Trump, gun rights, and free speech, pointing to security policies in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks as an example of an impulsive reaction to political violence.
Calling out Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carlson pointed to a tweet in which the representative mocked the phrase “thoughts and prayers” that is commonly used by groups like the NRA to provide a cursory response to mass shootings.
“The NRA doesn’t even exist in New Zealand… maybe Ocasio Cortez doesn’t even know,” Carlson said, before warning that “even while you sleep,” Democrats are working to invade the Constitution’s Second Amendment freedom that grants Americans the right to hold firearms.
Carlson later joined fellow host Laura Ingraham on her show for a segment during which an on-screen banner read: “Left using tragedy to shut down speech.”
Seeming suspicious of any report that had mentioned Trump and the shooter’s online posts, which appeared to be heavily influenced by fringe, far-right internet communities with members from all over the world, Carlson insisted the attack had “nothing to do with the United States.”
“What does this story have to do with Trump?” Carlson. “It was a Brit, in New Zealand, shooting up a mosque, two mosques, that has nothing to do with the United States, with Donald Trump.”
Multiple reports cited analysis like a November 2018 report from The Washington Post that found far-right violence has been on the rise since President Donald Trump entered the White House.
Additionally, an October 2018 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found a majority of Americans agree that Trump has “encouraged white supremacist groups” with his decisions and behavior.
Carlson added, “If everything is about Trump, there’s no room for everything else, there’s a lot of other stuff going on.”
Ingraham had opened show by pointing to attacks on Christians and Catholics in the Middle East and Europe by “Islamists, radical Muslims who take it upon themselves to kill any infidel, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jews, or whoever.”
Ingraham’s suggestion of a threat against Christians that had gone unaddressed was similar to the suspected shooter’s intention for the attack as expressed in what appeared to be his manifesto, where he declared he was “out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.”
Referencing an April 2017 attack on Christians in Egypt’s St. Mark’s Cathedral and attacks against Christians, Ingraham objected to the political discussion spurred by the massacre in New Zealand, saying when Christians are attacked, “you don’t have [people] blaming a political party or a political figure for it. That’s the difference.”
Many reports took notice of the attack as the latest in a rising tide of hate group activity that follows the upward trend within the United States. Recent data from the Anti-Defamation League concluded every extremist killing in the US in 2018 had a link to right-wing extremism.
The president offered no condemnation of the shooter’s apparent motivation in that attack. On Friday afternoon, Trump was asked in a press pool, “Do you see today white nationalism a rising threat around the world?”
“I don’t really,” the president said. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess. If you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case.”
John Haltiwanger contributed reporting.