Laura and Tucker, the dynamic duo.
Fox News blamed weed and women for the Illinois parade shooting
Far be it for a reasonable person to turn on Fox News expecting anything resembling, well, “news” — especially, by the network’s own admission, during the primetime hours, when its big name hosts reign supreme in obstinate defiance of facts and decency and, y’know, reality in general. So, it’s not like we should be caught off guard by the fact that people like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have spent the days following the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, scrambling to lay the blame on a suite of contributing factors, rather than acknowledge that a 22-year-old with a history of violent threats incubated in the far-right recesses of the internet was able to legally buy a weapon of war and use it to murder seven people during a neighborhood parade.
“On the mass shooting in Illinois, indications are that [the shooter] was a regular pot user,” Ingraham mused during her Tuesday evening broadcast. “Now, one look at him and to the untrained eye he looks like a complete psychotic, if you’ve ever seen anyone looking like him. What can regular pot use trigger in young men in particular? Psychosis and other violent personality changes.”
Ingraham went on to accurately detail the host of instances wherein authorities could and should have stepped in to prevent the mass shooting before it occurred, before proclaiming that “in a positive development over the past few weeks, the media seems to be recognizing the danger of sustained high THC content in young people.”
As her segment ended, Ingraham spoke over a graphic of several recent mass shooting suspects, explaining, “These are the eyes of some of the mass killers who have reportedly been regular pot users. Look at them. Those in politics and in the media who devote their time and energy to fear-mongering on fake issues while covering up the truth about the growing scourge of violent psychosis in our young people, they have to be called out. They have to be defeated.”
Legitimate (if wildly overblown) dangers of prolonged, excessive use of extremely potent weed notwithstanding, the notion that getting too high would somehow compel a person to pick up a gun and kill parade-watchers, and not the fact that the person was submerged in the very same violent, right-wing media ecosystem Ingraham herself is central to, is the sort of bad-faith deflection we’ve come to expect from Fox News. But she wasn’t alone in her attempt to obfuscate the obvious. As could probably have been expected, fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson was right there with her, ready to point fingers at any and everything he could that was not an indictment of his own fear-mongering, extremist style.
Unlike Ingraham’s unsubtle “IT’S THE POT!!!!!!” hysteria, Carlson’s screed on the factors that led to the July 4 shooting is insidious in its own, quieter way. Here, as in many of his most deleterious rants, Carlson is identifying all the right things, and then drawing all the wrong conclusions: Yes, the suspected shooter was immersed in a violent fantasyland of internet extremism, and yes, he should have been red flagged before he was able to legally purchase his gun, and yes, he is representative of a host of similarly indoctrinated potential extremists. But — and this is Carlson’s evil genius at work — these are all the failings of liberals, he argues, who have victimized the shooter to the point of violence. It’s not that the shooter was a violent right-wing powder keg waiting to be set off; it’s that he’s a victim of a generic list of right-wing complaints that have zero basis in reality. And therefore, Carlson is suggesting, we should really be blaming the left for what happened in Highland Park.
See what he did there?
Meanwhile, Fox News’s Bigot Emeritus and credibly accused sexual predator Bill O’Reilly chose to simply scream at a camera about ... I’m not even sure what, to be honest. I think he’s saying that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is a reverse racist who wants to crack down on white people, but not other minorities? Truly, it’s mostly just a good reminder that this guy was once the most powerful voice in right-wing media, and now he’s just an old man shouting in an empty room.
All this comes, of course, as conspiracy theorists across the right are working overtime to explain away this latest act of horrific violence with a range of nonsense ideas that are more about covering their own asses than actually understanding and addressing the fact that in America, a 22-year-old with a history of violent threats can legally buy an assault rifle, and — after weeks of planning — use it to kill people gathered for a 4th of July parade.