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Friday, Oct 23, 2020

Tucker Carlson announces vacation after writer resigns over racist remarks

Fox News host also said ex-writer Blake Neff’s comments were ‘wrong’ but that he paid a ‘very heavy price’
The Fox News host Tucker Carlson responded to the resignation of senior writer Blake Neff on Monday night, saying racist and misogynistic comments Neff made on an online forum were “wrong”, but adding that the writer had paid a “very heavy price”.

Carlson also said he was taking a “long-planned” vacation. He did not say it was connected to Neff’s resignation, which was announced last week after a CNN investigation found that he had written on the online forum under a pseudonym for years.

One post, from 5 June, said: “Black doods staying inside playing Call of Duty is probably one of the biggest factors keeping crime down.”

Neff also maintained a thread for five years which contained sexist comments toward a woman and included personal details.

Carlson, the most-watched cable news host in US history, often generates backlash with on-screen rants against migrants and liberals, controversy he uses as fuel for further tirades.

Donald Trump is a committed viewer and there are whisperings among Republicans that the anchor could use his popularity to mount a presidential run in 2024.

In a recent interview with Dartmouth University’s alumni magazine, Neff, who starting writing for Carlson shortly after the host’s Fox News show launched in November 2016, said: “Anything [Carlson’s] reading off the teleprompter, the first draft is written by me.”

He had “gotten used to what [Carlson] likes and what he thinks about”, he said.

While Fox News leaders denounced Neff’s online posts, Carlson did not comment until Monday night.

“Blake was horrified by the [CNN] story, and he was ashamed,” he said. “What Blake wrote anonymously was wrong. We don’t endorse those words. They have no connection to the show. It is wrong to attack people for qualities they cannot control.”

Neff has “paid a very heavy price”, Carlson said. But he quickly pivoted to what appeared to be a message against “cancel culture”, complaining about “ghouls now beating their chests in triumph at the destruction of a young man”.

“When we pretend we are holy, we are lying,” Carlson said. “When we pose as blameless in order to hurt other people, we are committing the gravest sin of all and we will be punished for it, there’s no question.”

Later, Carlson announced that he would be off air for the rest of the week, for a “long-planned” vacation.

Fox News hosts are known for taking aptly timed “vacations” when controversies erupt and advertisers pull out.

Last August, Carlson announced a vacation after causing a rift with advertisers by calling white supremacy a “hoax” and a “conspiracy theory”. He has lost big names recently over comments about Black Lives Matter protesters.

In similar cases, host Bill O’Reilly took some “R&R” after sexual harassment allegations became public, while Sean Hannity went on vacation after propagating a conspiracy theory which said the murder of a Democratic National Committee employee was connected to an email hack.
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