Night after night on Fox, Tucker Carlson weaponizes his viewers’ fears and grievances to create what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news. It is also, by some measures, the most successful.
With singular influence — reaching far beyond Fox and the viewers who tune in to his show — Mr. Carlson has filled the vacuum left by Donald J. Trump, championing the former president’s most ardent followers and some of their most extreme views. As fervently as he has raced to the defense of the Jan. 6 rioters, so has he sown doubt and suspicion around immigrants, Black Lives Matter protesters or Covid-19 vaccines.
A New York Times examination of Mr. Carlson’s career, including interviews with dozens of friends and former colleagues, and an analysis of more than 1,100 episodes of his Fox program, shows how he has grown increasingly sympathetic to the nativist currents coursing through U.S. politics, and how intertwined his rise has been with the transformations of his network and of American conservatism.
Years of talking points from the far-right fringe
Last spring, Mr. Carlson caused an uproar when he promoted on air the notion of the “great replacement” — a racist conspiracy theory, once relegated to the far-right fringe, that Western elites are importing “obedient” immigrant voters to disempower the native-born. The Anti-Defamation League called for his firing, noting that such thinking had helped fuel a string of terrorist attacks.”