Journalists Call Out Fox News for Spreading Racist ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Behind Buffalo Shooting

Reliable Sources panel discusses racist conspiracy theories and Fox News. (Credit: CNN)

A group of journalists recently joined CNN’s Reliable Sources to discuss the spread of white supremacist theories across the internet and on some mainstream media outlets, including Fox News.

The conversation centered on the May 14 massacre at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, that claimed 10 lives and left three others injured. The journalists focused on the Buffalo suspect’s embrace of the so-called “great replacement” conspiracy theory that Whites are being intentionally replaced by people of color and immigrants.

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Mara Schiavocampo, a former ABC and NBC correspondent, noted that the media often describes White gunmen in mass shootings as mentally ill, instead of calling them domestic terrorists.

“They’re almost almost portrayed as a lone wolf, just acting by themselves when this is inaccurate because we know that these are violent domestic terrorists who subscribe to a group ideology of white supremacy,” Schiavocampo said.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wesley Lowery added that there’s a “complex conspiracy” theory fueling the type of hate that led to the mass shooting in Buffalo, the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, and the 2019 mass shooting targeting Latino shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

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Lowery said some Americans are being poisoned through the internet, right-wing media outlets, and through rhetoric from Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

“The stuff Tucker and Laura Ingraham say every night, it could be written by white supremacists,” Lowery stated.

Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter noted that many racist conspiracy theories start on “dark corners” of the internet.

Oliver Darcy, a senior media reporter at CNN, pointed out that those same conspiracy theories often make it into the mainstream media.

As an example, he mentioned former Fox News writer Blake Neff, who resigned in 2020, after being outed for secretly posting racist and sexist comments online about Black people, Asians and women. After the posts were revealed, Fox News executives condemned Neff’s comments as “horrendous and deeply offensive.”

“As we saw with Tucker Carlson, his former writer was one of these people on these deep, dark corners of the internet, one particular message board, and taking ideas from the internet and putting them in Tucker’s prompter where he would say it to millions of people every night,” Darcy said.

Schiavocampo then brought up the “great replacement” theory.

“There’s no question that outlets like Fox News are responsible for mainstreaming these conspiracy theories that have largely been relegated in the past to the far right fringe,” she said.

Watch the video of the Reliable Sources segment here: