Opinion | Paul Ryan, It’s Time for You to Stand Up to Fox

You have undoubtedly followed what is happening there. You know how bad it got. Fox’s hosts continue to push the big lie about the elections, attempt to whitewash the January 6 attack on the capital, spread disinformation about the pandemic and adopt ugly racist narratives.

But unlike most of us, you are able to do something about it. And if you ever hope to influence the direction of the network or the conservative movement, this is the time to speak up.

When you were first appointed to the Fox Corporation board of directors by the Murdochs in 2019, Vanity Fair speculated You could use that influence to counter the rising trumpiness of Fox News. “Paul is embarrassing Trump and now he has the power to do something about it,” the magazine quoted an executive as saying.

The former man himself must have thought you had influence. After several experts pointed out Fox’s disastrous performance in last year’s first presidential debate, Trump blamed it you. He tweeted:

In all honesty, I don’t know if you tried controlling Fox News at all. You may think that your responsibility is only in the company’s bottom line. However, if you’ve ever thought of influencing, Fox News’s recent migration to the dark waters of raw racism and disinformation makes this question especially urgent:

If not now when?

Unlike the Trump tweets that you pretended not to read, you know what Tucker Carlson has been saying lately.

For months (years?) Carlson has been dancing on the edge of white nationalism.

He suggested that immigrants make America “dirtier”. He has defended the QAnon conspiracy theory. Last year he hit two Democratic members of Congress, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Citing their migration backgrounds, Carlson considered “Maybe we are importing people from places whose values ​​simply contradict ours.”

And then, a few days ago, he made racism clear when he used his Fox news platform to adopt what is known as the “replacement theory”. As the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt pointed this out, the replacement theory “is a white supremacist tenet that the white race is in danger from a rising tide of non-whites.”

“It’s anti-Semitic, racist and toxic,” said Greenblatt. “It shaped the ideology of the mass shooters in El Paso, Christchurch and Pittsburgh.”

Carlson’s on-air comments made it clear that he knew exactly which lines he was crossing. In case you didn’t catch the show, let me share the lowlights.

“I know the left and all those little goalkeepers on Twitter literally get hysterical when you use the term ‘substitute’ when you suggest that the Democratic Party try to get the current electorate – the voters who are now voting – through to replace new people. more obedient third world voters, ”Carlson said rudely 3 million viewers. “But they get hysterical because that’s exactly what is happening. Let’s just say it. That’s true.” [I’ve added the emphasis but I shouldn’t need to. We’ve long passed the need to translate Carlson’s dog whistles.]

Carlson took the idea further: “If you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there,” he later said. “Every time you import a new voter, I am disenfranchised as a current voter. Everyone wants to turn it into a racial problem.” Oh, “white substitute”. No, this is a question of voting rights. I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take this? “

“Make no mistake: this is dangerous stuff” Greenblatt wrote in the letter to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott. “The ‘great substitute theory’ is a classic white supremacist underpinning the modern white supremacist movement in America. This concept is discussed almost daily in racist online fever bogs.”

“Given his long experience with racing lures,” Greenblatt wrote on behalf of the ADL, “we believe it is time for Carlson to go.”

You know the rest. Fox was firm behind Carlson. In a letter to Greenblatt, Lachlan Murdoch, one of two Murdochs on the seven-member board, persisted that Carlson “rejected and rejected the replacement theory” because he was actually speaking of “a suffrage issue”.

Carlson appears to have taken Murdoch’s support as a green light to advance his nativist agenda. Just last week, he mocked President Biden said the January 6 uprising was the worst attack on our democracy since the civil war: “Really?” he asked. “The worst attack on our democracy in 160 years? How about the 1965 Immigration Act? ”

His remark prompted The AtlanticAdam Serwer to comment“I’m not sure how much more explicit Tucker is supposed to be when” the lifting of racial immigration restrictions that inspired Nazi Germany was an attack on American democracy “.

In response to the ADL, Murdoch insisted that Fox Corporation “loathes anti-Semitism, white supremacy and racism of all kinds”.

But as long as Fox continues to show Carlson, you know this is pure gas lighting because you know how to spot bigotry.

In the “prehistoric times” you also knew how to call hatred.

When then-candidate Trump called for an entry ban for all Muslims in 2015, you went to the RNC offices on Capitol Hill to say, “This is not conservatism.”

“What was proposed yesterday,” you said of Trump’s proposal, “is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it is not what this country stands for.”

The next year, when Trump questioned the impartiality of US District Court judge Gonzalo Curiel because of his “Mexican heritage”, you named it “The Textbook Definition of Racist Commentary.”

And you may remember when you got on my old radio show and I asked you for a Trump tweet with a six-pointed Star of David next to Hillary Clinton’s face and the words, “Most corrupt candidate of all time!” Asked.

“Look, anti-Semitic images, they have no place in a presidential campaign,” you told me. “Candidates should know that.”

Although you had reluctantly endorsed Trump, you insisted, “As you know, one of the few times I spoke out very strongly against him during the primaries was in this area when he did not oppose supremacists, white supremacists. And so, look, I made that really, really clear. “

But Trump won, and you made your peace with him. You have made the decision to keep your criticism of his behavior a secret. You got a bargain. Her mantra was: “Only one person can be the speaker of the house.”

We talked about it and agreed not to agree. They had an institutional role to play and a majority to protect. But now we have to face the damage the Trump presidency has done to our politics and culture.

“We have a responsibility to try to rebuild,” you told Tim Alberta in 2019, a few months after you retired.

“Our job from now on is to build up the country’s antibodies … to keep the guard rails high, to drive the car in the middle of the road and not to let the car go into the ditch.”

Now you have the opportunity to do so. None of the calculations underlying your business with the Trump presidency apply any longer. After you left Congress, you were no longer responsible for keeping a Trumpian caucus in line or in power, or, as you said Alberta, “helping the institution survive.”

But your silence then meant that you had to watch the GOP transform into the image of the former man; A party that, in your own words, has become “isolated, protectionist and semi-xenophobic, against immigrants”. Since then, the GOP has deteriorated – more disconnected from reality, hostile to democratic norms, and ready to grapple with ugly conspiracy theories and harmful white nationalist narratives.

That is why I am writing to you now:

You are undoubtedly enjoying your stay in personal life, but you have already shown a willingness to return to the arena if the threat is serious enough.

In January, You issued a public declaration warning “Efforts to reject the electoral college vote and sow doubts about Joe Biden’s victorious strike in founding our republic.”

You saw what happened and you couldn’t stay silent. “It is difficult to imagine a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than federal intervention to dismiss the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans,” you said. “The fact that these efforts will fail does not mean that they will not do any significant damage to American democracy.”

But that damage continues, and you can’t escape the harsh fact that you are a part of it by chairing a company that continues to pour toxic disinformation into body politics.

Paul, your position is currently unique. You’re not just the former Vice President of your party and the former Speaker of the House. You sit on the board of directors of the media company that shapes and warps the future of the movement to which you have dedicated your life. It spreads vicious racist tropics.

Just this week, Rep. Liz Cheney told you“We cannot accept the idea that the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. “But 70 percent of Republicans now believe this big lie. They know they didn’t get this from NPR.

Fox has become one too Vector of disinformation about the pandemic that puts human life in danger. According to surveys, 45 percent of Republicans say they do not plan to be vaccinated. As a baseball figure, based on the number of people who voted for Trump, that’s what it’s about 36 million people.

Even as the death toll rose, Fox News presenters continued to interview conspiracy theorists, crackpots, and vaccine deniers.

This is not a partisan topic of conversation. Perhaps we are now counting the consequences for lost lives.

And the whole time you were silent. After your interview with Cheney, CNN’s Oliver Darcy specifically asked when you were going to “talk about the rhetoric” that “literally benefits” you?

Why not now?

Which lighter red lines could possibly be crossed? If this is not the time to draw your own line, what would it be?

If you want to make a difference, is this not the time? If you are looking to change your legacy, is this not the time?

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