UPDATED, with comments from Tucker Carlson: Karine Jean-Pierre devoted the start of her first press briefing as White House Press Secretary on Monday by paying tribute to the 10 victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo, NY, as authorities point to the suspect’s embrace of a ‘great replacement” theory that elites are “replacing” white voters with more obedient non-white immigrants.
Jean-Pierre, though, declined to specially name any politicians or Fox News host Tucker Carlson who have espoused some version of “replacement theory,” to the condemnation of groups like the Anti-Defamation League.
ABC News’ Cecilia Vega asked, “On this notion that immigrants or others are believed to be by some ‘taking over’ and pushing white people out of positions of authority in this country, which is at the heart of so much of this terror that is being spewed online, does the White House believe these views are being amplified by Tucker Carlson?”
Jean-Pierre said, “We are still figuring out the motivation of all of this, and we are very clear. As you all know, watching what happened in Charlottesville was a major factor in the president deciding to run, back in 2017. Many of those dark voices exist today, and the president is determined as he was back then, and he is determined today, to make sure that we fight back against those forces of hate and evil and violence. So that is what we are going to keep doing.”
Later, CNN”s MJ Lee asked Jean-Pierre why the White House did not want to call out any names. “Does that come from the president himself?”
Jean-Pierre responded, “No, because it doesn’t matter who it is. If a person espouses hatred, we need to call that out. I’m not going to get in a back and forth on names and who said what. We’re just saying, if there is an individual who is espousing hate, xenophobia, has a white supremacy type of extremism, we need to call that out. This president has done that. He has done that at every unfortunate violent event that we have seen.”
The Buffalo shootings have placed renewed attention on what Carlson has said.
Just over a year ago, the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt called for Fox News to fire Carlson for his “impassioned defense of the white supremacist ‘great replacement theory,’ the hateful notion that the white race is in danger of being “replaced” by a rising tide of non-whites.”
In a segment on his show, Carlson said, “I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to ‘replace’ the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”
In a letter to Greenblatt, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch rejected calls for Carlson’s ouster, arguing that the Fox News host was not advocating for “white replacement theory” but that he had stated that it was a “voting rights question.”
Yet Carlson has continued to advance the “replacement theory” in other shows. In September, Carlson said, “In political terms, this policy is called ‘the great replacement’ — the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from faraway countries. They brag about it all the time, but if you say it is happening, they scream at you with maximum hysteria.”
He said that Biden favored “an unrelenting stream of immigration. But why? Well, Joe Biden just said it: to change the racial mix of the country. That’s the reason: to reduce the political power of people whose ancestors lived here, and dramatically increase the proportion of Americans newly arrived from the Third World.”
Asked for comment, a Fox News spokesperson on Monday pointed to instances where Carlson has denounced political violence.
While the White House has not called out Carlson or politicians on the right, plenty of others have weighed in.
On the floor of the Senate on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “in a craven quest for viewers and ratings, organizations like Fox News have spent years perfecting the craft of stoking cultural grievance and political resentment that eerily mirrors the messages found in replacement theory.” He cited a recent New York Times series that found that Carlson “spewed rhetoric that echoes replacement theory at least 400 times on his show since 2016.”
“This is a poison that is being spread by one of the largest news organizations in our country,” Schumer said.
On The View on Monday, co-host Ana Navarro said that advertisers, Fox Corp. board members and Republican donors “are part of the problem.” The Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes wrote that “no one, however, has done as much to bring the Replacement Theory into the heart of our politics/culture as Tucker Carlson.”
On his show on Monday night, Carlson responded with more grievance, even suggesting that Democrats critical of him were out to “suspend the First Amendment.” “So what is hate speech? Well, it’s speech that our leaders hate,” he said. “Because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud. That’s what they are telling you. That is what they are wanting to tell you for a long time, but Saturday’s massacre gives them a pretext to justification.”
Biden plans to visit Buffalo on Tuesday.
At her press conference, Jean-Pierre noted that she is a Black, LGBTQ immigrant now serving as press secretary.
“If it were not for generations of barrier breaking people before me, I would not be here,” she said. “I benefit from their sacrifices. I have learned from their excellence, and I am forever grateful to them. Representation does matter. You hear us say this often in this administration, and no one understands this better than President Biden.”