Speed Reads


John Oliver reluctantly decodes Tucker Carlson's 'well-laundered' white supremacist talking points

"Our main story tonight concerns, I'm sorry to say, Tucker Carlson," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "This week — as he now seems to every week — Tucker set off a bit of a firestorm," this time around women serving in the military. "This comment sparked an all-too-familiar cycle of condemnation, defensiveness, and hype," he said, "and look, I would like nothing more than to not play into his wildly offensive schtick," but Carlson already gets lots of attention — from, for example, more than 3 million Fox News viewers on an average night, even young people.

And if Carlson's expanding role at Fox "wasn't enough, Tucker's also being floated as a potential future presidential candidate, which would be seriously alarming, because of all the things that Tucker is — a conspiracy theorist, a misogynist, Islamophobe, a troll — one of the most dangerous is that he is the most prominent vessel in America for white supremacist talking points," Oliver said. "Tucker — conveniently for him — doesn't fit neatly into a lot of people's perception of white supremacist," but "given that Tucker has the admiration of white supremacists and the ears of millions of your relatives, coworkers, and elected officials, we thought tonight it would be worth talking about him: where he came from, what his tactics are, and why what he represents is so dangerous."

Carlson frequently, ingenuously asks what white supremacy or white nationalism even means, but when you look at his long public record of commentary, Oliver said, it's essentially the sum of his message: "He is scared of a country that looks nothing like the one he grew up in, because diversity isn't our strength; immigrants make our country poorer, dirtier, and more divided; and any attempt to change that culture is an attack on Western Civilization." And Carlson is so dangerous, he said, because his "well-laundered version" of white supremacy reaches millions of people who wouldn't be receptive to the unlaundered version.

You can watch Oliver call Carlson a "performatively outraged wedge salad," a "relentlessly indignant picket fence," and a "walking yacht club scrunching his face up for an hour every night," usually "making the befuddled face of a 13th century farmer learning about bitcoin." But be aware there is also NSFW language.

The Daily Show recently had a broader, lighter, more safe-for-work recap of Carlson's career and messaging, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber