Fox News host Tucker Carlson swatted away suggested ties to white supremacist ideology when pressed about the rhetoric on his nightly show during a tense interview at an event on Thursday. “I’ve never had a white supremacist work for me. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a white supremacist,” Carlson said during event hosted by Semafor, a new media company founded by journalist Ben Smith and media executive Justin Smith. “I’m not sure what that means. I know it’s a slur and the worst thing that a person can be. I don’t really understand the terms.”
In the aftermath of Christchurch, the media were aware of what they were doing as they did it. And some, against all impulses, resisted amplifying the killer’s twisted ideology or even mentioning his name. For Joan Donovan, director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, this was a real improvement from years of sloppy and harmful reporting: seeking quotes from white supremacists after a violent events, linking to so-called manifestos, and teaching readers where to find more hateful ideas. However, for all the growth journalists have demonstrated, the other, bigger distributors of information — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google — are still light years away from developing an enforceable code of ethics for dealing with hate groups.