Tucker Carlson lauded in Utah newspaper despite replacement theory ties
The Deseret News is under fire for promoting an op-ed that praised Tucker Carlson's views, even after The New York Times unveiled what appears to be a racist text message he sent after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Driving the news: The Deseret News, which is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, posted a piece late Tuesday in which conservative opinion writer Bethany Mandel extolled Carlson's advice to have "Mormon levels of children."
- At about the same time, The New York Times reported Carlson wrote a text message on Jan. 7, 2021, about a group attack on an "Antifa kid," saying that's "not how white men fight." The message was cited in a lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems, which Fox settled a week before firing Carlson.
- The Desert News continued to promote Mandel's story on social media after the Times report gained broad attention.
The intrigue: Mandel wrote a political column for the Deseret News until March, when her controversial tweets about race and ethnicity resurfaced after she stammered through an attempt to define "woke" in a viral video interview.
- The newspaper's editor, Hal Boyd, told Axios at the time that Mandel was "no longer contributing political opinion and culture pieces for the Deseret News, but from her perspective as a mother of six, she will write longer essays and reported features related to parenting and family life."
What they're saying: After intense pushback on social media, Boyd tweeted Wednesday: "Tucker was a negative influence on public discourse ... But his comments on family relationships highlighted in [Mandel's] piece were interesting."
- Neither Boyd nor Mandel responded to Axios' request for comment.
Yes, but: Carlson's exhortation to have more children, delivered to Fox's overwhelmingly white audience in 2021, occurred alongside a pattern of advancing a xenophobic argument known as "replacement theory."
- Encouraging larger families is central to that conspiracy theory.
Details: "Replacement theory," or "great replacement" holds that immigrants and other people of color are "replacing" white and natural-born American citizens and will eventually control the country.
Catch up quick: Carlson described "birth rates among native-born Americans" as "the clearest possible measure of optimism in the future."
- He invited guests like former Iowa Rep. Steve King to his show, who complained: "We have to do something to increase our birth rate, or the vacuum … will be filled by people who don't believe in our values.” He's also railed against declining birth rates in relation to immigration.
- Carlson has decried "demographic change" and complained last week that his ouster from Fox amounts to censorship of the topic.
Zoom in: Mandel's own piece said Carlson's views of "demographic change and our falling birth rates" deserve more attention.
Between the lines: "By publishing Mandel's column, the editors assist her in laundering Tucker Carlson's racist Great Replacement ideology," said Blair Hodges, a church member who hosts the faith-related podcast "Fireside" and operates the Jazz Fans Against Racism Twitter account.
- "There is nothing Carlson or Mandel offer that couldn't be explored using more responsible sources," Hodges told Axios.
The other side: Carlson claimed his arguments aren't racist because he says immigrants are "replacing" declining populations of natural-born citizens of all races, not just white people.
- Carlson's critics — like The Hill's Briahna Joy Gray, who conducted the interview Mandel botched in March — say while he's "fastidiously race-neutral," the mask slips in his objections to historic immigration reforms that ended discriminatory quotas against racial and ethnic minorities.
- In a 2021 open letter to Fox News, the Anti-Defamation League's director said Carlson's language was "not just a dog whistle to racists – it was a bullhorn."
- It's unclear how Mandel's promotion of Carlson's views on family planning can be separated from politics, given the context of his campaign for larger families.
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