The rightwing Fox News host Tucker Carlson has defended the actions of a 17-year-old who was arrested and charged with murder after two people were killed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as white vigilante agitators shot at Black Lives Matter protesters.
Kyle Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, 20 miles south-west of Kenosha, had taken to the streets of Kenosha with a rifle after protesters marched demanding justice for Jacob Blake, a young Black father who was shot and gravely wounded by police on Sunday.
On his TV show Carlson – who has a long record of making racist and inflammatory statements, triggering an advertising boycott – said that Rittenhouse’s actions were understandable given the violence and property damage in the city.
“Kenosha has devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it. People in charge from the governor of Wisconsin on down refused to enforce the law. They stood back and they watched Kenosha burn,” Carlson said.
He then added: “So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?”
His words were met with instant condemnation on social media.
“An innocent black guy is killed by police and Tucker Carlson calls him a thug. A guilty white guy murders two people and Tucker Carlson calls him a patriot,” tweeted CNN commentator Keith Boykins.
“He just justified murder,” tweeted the New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.
An innocent black guy is killed by police and Tucker Carlson calls him a thug.
A guilty white guy murders two people and Tucker Carlson calls him a patriot. https://t.co/SGHhohdLfC
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 27, 2020
“If they don’t take action after this, every one of Fox News’s executives, directors and advertisers is complicit in Tucker Carlson’s racist, murderous rants,” said Robert Reich, a former secretary of labor under Bill Clinton.
The comments are far from the only time Carlson has broadcast bigoted or extreme views, especially when it comes to race and immigration.
Last August, Carlson announced a vacation after causing a rift with advertisers by calling white supremacy a “hoax” and a “conspiracy theory”. In another incident Carlson said that letting low-income people immigrate to America “makes our own country poor and dirtier”.
Recently, one of Carlson’s top writers resigned after a CNN investigation found he was posting racist and sexist comments online under a pseudonym. Blake Neff regularly posted offensive language on an online forum called AutoAdmit.
In June, for example, Neff wrote, “Black doods staying inside playing Call of Duty is probably one of the biggest factors keeping crime down.” Neff also harassed a woman on the forum.
Originally published: 2020-08-26 20:49:56