“Fire Tucker Carlson Now” was trending on Twitter Wednesday night and into Thursday after the Fox News host offered excuses for the actions of Kenosha shooting suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who is accused of killing two people during a protest on Tuesday night.
“Are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder?” Carlson said during his show on Wednesday night. “How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?”
Carlson’s words, seeming to rationalize or excuse Rittenhouse’s alleged actions, received widespread backlash on social media, with many calling for Fox to fire Carlson.
“He just justified murder,” tweeted Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” sharing a clip from Carlson’s broadcast.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie Guttenberg died in the Parkland school shooting in 2018, responded to Carlson on Twitter.
“My daughter was killed by an 18 year with an AR 15. Just walked into her school. Tucker, you are a f***ing lunatic who will get people killed. I hope advertisers dropp [sic] you immediately today. You should be removed for the safety of our kids,” tweeted Guttenberg.
Others also called for advertisers to pull ads from Carlson’s Fox News show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“If they don’t take action after this, every one of Fox News’s executives, directors, and advertisers is complicit in Tucker Carlson’s racist, murderous rants,” tweeted Robert Reich, who served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration and is currently a professor at Berkeley.
Political podcast host Brian Tyler Cohen tweeted a list of Carlson’s advertisers, tagging companies like SurePayroll, Gabi Insurance, My Pillow and Grayscale. “You all just paid for Tucker Carlson to defend a murderer on air,” Cohen wrote in the tweet.
Earlier this year, companies including T-Mobile and Papa John’s Pizza pulled out of ad placements on Carlson’s show after the host made dismissive comments about the Black Lives Matters movement and ominously warned his viewers that “they” will “come for you.”
Companies have canceled ads after controversial remarks by other Fox News shows in the past. Laura Ingraham lost about 50% of her show’s on-air advertising time in 2018 when nearly 20 companies yanked their commercials in response to protests led by David Hogg, a 17-year old Parkland student and anti-gun-violence activist she mocked.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Gabi Insurance said it intended to pull its ads. The company said it had “indefinitely stopped months ago with Tucker but it seems we were still airing recently. This will NOT happen again. We will make a stand with you.”
Grayscale, a digital currency management company, said in a tweet Thursday: “It came to our attention that one of our ads erroneously ran during a TV program last night that is absolutely not aligned with our values or what we stand for. We’re investigating how this aired outside of our media buyer’s guidelines to ensure this does not happen again.”
It is unclear if the program they were referring to was “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” CBS News has reached out to those and other companies that advertise during the show for more information.
A spokesperson from SurePayroll told CBS News, “As of this morning, we have halted our remnant bidding [for open commercial time] during the Tucker Carlson timeslot as we continue to evaluate our advertising strategy.”
“We support different points of view and encourage open dialogue,” SurePayroll also said. “We do not support commentary that condones or encourages violence of any kind. We are actively working to ensure that our ad placements align to our mission and the values that we live every day.”
On his show Wednesday, Carlson played a clip of the gunman firing at protesters, saying a court will decide whether he was acting in self defense. “We do know why it all happened though,” he continued. “Kenosha has devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it. People in charge, from the governor of Wisconsin on down, refused to enforce the law. They stood back and watched Kenosha burn.”
In response to CBS News’ request for comment, Fox News pointed to a tweet by Carlson which quoted that portion of his comments, and provided the full transcript of the segment.
The protesters were demonstrating in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot several times in the back by Kenosha police and is now paralyzed.
Cellphone video taken during the protests showed what appeared to be a White man with a semi-automatic rifle opening fire on a group.
Kenosha police identified the two people killed only as a 26-year-old from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, and a 36-year-old from Kenosha. Police said one person was wounded, a 36-year-old from West Allis, Wisconsin who was expected to survive.
Police in Antioch, Illinois, announced Thursday that Kyle Rittenhouse was taken into custody there on a warrant out of Kenosha County, Wisconsin, charging the teen with first-degree intentional homicide.
He is due back in court for an extradition hearing on Friday.
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