Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Fox: Fox and Tucker Carlson Racist and Sexist Remarks (July 2020)


            Tucker Carlson, a host of Fox’s News’ political show ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ has been accused of making various racist and sexist remarks since 2006. His top writer, who produced the scripts every night for his show was recently fired from Fox news as dehumanizing comments made by him were found on a forum via a CNN investigation.  Fox News has had a lengthy history with their news anchors and employees making controversial comments in the past. These offensive comments and actions have led to many PR-nightmare’s over the years for Fox.

Fox News Logo

            This paper will dive into the various controversies Fox News has been through over the recent years, and ethically analyze the situations. The analysis will be in the scope of Individualism, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory. An individualist would hold Fox accountable for hurting the company's ability to achieve maximum profit. Utilitarian’s would consider this situation a failure because it made everyone disappointed, and sad, which is the exact opposite of the goal of utilitarianism: to maximize happiness for all beings. A Kantian analysis of this controversy would show that Tucker Carlson’s comments were not ethically permissible, as they treated their viewers as a mere means opposed to as an end. Finally, virtue theory would criticize the lack of empathy, accountability, and character from all employees, and owners of Fox News.



Fox News is an American political news television channel that was launched in 1996, under Fox entertainment group. Ever since their launch they have been a top news channel, with various shows of political commentators giving their opinions on the countries burning topics and daily headlines. In 2016, shortly after Donald Trump won the presidential election, Fox News hired a news anchor, Tucker Carlson, to host his very own show on the weeknights.

Born May 16, 1969, 51-year-old Tucker Carlson is an American political commentator, best known for his conservative views and nightly television show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News. As of 2020, his show is the most-watched cable news show in the United States.

The Case:

Tucker Carlson’s top writer Blake Neff, resigned after racist and sexist comments he made were uncovered by CNN. Neff was known to be Carlson’s best writer at Fox, and was with the company from the time that the show started until his resignation in July of 2020. On top of writing for Tucker Carlson, he also was a “WarGaming Subject Matter Expert'' for the Marine Corps College since October of 2016. The controversy arose after a CNN lead investigation found that Blake Neff was using a pseudonym on a
public forum to post racist, sexist, misogynistic, and homophobic remarks.

The comments posted by Neff date back to over 5 years ago, and were consistent until the day of his resignation. With the discovery of the posts, and the resignation from Fox, the Marine Corps College immediately cut ties with Neff stating, “We immediately removed Mr. Neff from the list of experts who support our educational wargaming program. Mr. Neff's language and behavior do not represent Marine Corps University or the United States Marine Corps.” The situation resulted in heavy scrutiny for Fox, with viewers and critics wondering how they can have such demeaning and degrading comments come from a top writer for the #1 news broadcast in the country. The audience was put on edge even further after Tucker Carlson attempted to clear the air at the start of one of his shows. Carlson stated, “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...” Tucker then went on and directly attacked the critics of the show stating “self-righteousness also has its costs” in reference to all the people happy that Neff was publicly exposed and fired. Carlson tied “cancel culture” into his response about Neff, and the critics were not pleased with his response to the obviously offensive remarks. Fox News was slightly late to get their response to the situation out, but eventually issued this apology. “
We want to make abundantly clear that Fox News Media strongly condemns this horrific racist, misogynistic and homophobic behavior. Neff’s abhorrent conduct on this forum was never divulged to the show or the network until Friday, at which point we swiftly accepted his resignation,” Scott and Wallace added. “Make no mistake, actions such as his cannot and will not be tolerated at any time in any part of our workforce”. After addressing the incident he proceeded to finish his nightly show like usual, but with another announcement at the end. Carlson announced he would be taking the next week off for a ‘long planned’ fishing trip. The last time Carlson announced he was taking a break was in August 2019, after he made claims earlier that week that white supremacy was a hoax.

Tucker Carlson calling white supremacy a
hoax during one of his shows
“There is a long tradition of Fox News anchors going on supposedly pre-planned vacations when they spark controversy” (CNN). These controversies have all been followed by multiple big advertisers no longer running their ads on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’. Some of the brands that no longer affiliate themselves with his show on Fox include Papa John's Pizza, Disney, and T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s CEO even took it to Twitter where he made it very clear that T-Mobile will not stand with Carlson now or ever again in the future, as he shared that he doesn’t plan to return to work with the show again. “It definitely is not (a message we stand by). Bye-bye Tucker Carlson!” (Mike Sievert, Twitter). Carlson has had a very controversial past and is known for being a figure in the American political scene with contended comments. He was featured on a radio show from 2006 to 2009 called ‘Bubba The Love Sponge Show’ where he made several derogatory comments about women and people of color. The comments made included degrading the former first lady, Michelle Obama, on her appearance; claiming he has no respect for the Iraqi people and culture; and also explained his support for a hypothetically ‘Anti-Islam’ presidential candidate. The comments made on the radio show were always public but recently resurfaced back in early 2019. Carlson had a similar response to the media when they started covering the resurface. He lightly brushed off the comments that he made while offering no real apology, then fired back. He fired back at his critics, “Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour,” Carlson wrote in the statement. “If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why” (Rosenburg).


            The stakeholders of Fox News hold the company up to a high standard and a high value when it comes to the accuracy, speed, and reliability of their reporting. Having the most watched political news show on air in the country is a great accolade that is reflected in the stakeholders of Fox. Fox’s number one priority when a situation like this arises is to maintain its relationship with its viewers, which are the most important stakeholders, because without them there would be no business. Another important stakeholder relationship to maintain is its partners. All of the company’s that partner with Fox to run commercials question the safety of displaying their brand on Fox News after a situation like this takes place. Fox did a good job at getting an apology and explanation of the situation out to the public quickly, to assure the public, and it’s sponsors that they do not align themselves with the twisted views of their former employee Blake Neff. Fox’s biggest competitors, like MSNBC and CNN news networks, are big stakeholders of Fox, and benefit off of this controversy by gaining the viewers that left Fox because of what happened. To keep the stakeholder’s best interests in mind, Fox will have to do a better job at monitoring their writers, and anchors, to help prevent a similar situation from occurring again.


            Individualism’s main focus and ideals, brought about by Friedman, is about maximizing profit. Friedman believes that profit should be at the forefront of every business that is attempting to reach its max profitability. Another key principle of individualism is to remain within the law when attempting to maximize profit, for the sake of being ethically permissible. From an individualist perspective, this situation hurt Fox News. Blake Neff getting exposed for writing these messages brought a whole bunch of problems to Fox news. Fox lost viewers as the story spread across other news outlets. The situation hurt Fox’s reputation in the public eye, and while they did not break the law, Fox was doing the exact opposite of making profit. Multiple sponsors no longer ran ads on the show, including Disney, Papa John’s, and T-Mobile. Fox was put in a tough situation as they did not know what Neff was doing, so they had little control in their outcome, but this was definitely against individualist views. Fox would be ethically responsible for allowing Tucker Carlson to say controversial things on the air that offend certain people and cause the advertisers to pull away.


             The goal of Utilitarianism is to maximize self-happiness and the happiness of others. “Under a utilitarian framework, all beings who are capable of experiencing happiness should be considered when weighing the costs and benefits of actions” (Salazar). In this situation, with Utilitarian ideals, the principle of utility was not effectively displayed. Happiness was not maximized for everyone. Blake Neff and Tucker Carlson making controversial comments provided negative feedback for the company and was extremely hurtful to the sales of the company. The stockholders would be very unhappy as a result of this claim because the value of the company dropped and sales went down. The viewers at home are not happy because they now are going to have a hard time trusting the news network. It was a bad look for the company and which made everyone unhappy, and dissatisfied.


            The formula of humanity is to not treat someone simply as a means but always as an end. This means to not use people and don't lie, exploit, manipulate, steal, disrespect, degrade, objectify anyone. In this situation, the formula of humanity was not applied. Blake Neff and Tucker Carlson offended millions of people when they made their hateful and careless comments. Neff’s comments in particular were degrading and objectifying women and people of color. Carlson’s comments over the years have been disrespectful to women, immigrants, and people of color. Fox News fails from the perspective of Kantianism, by failing to take action against Carlson as he said the comments that were degrading to millions of people. Fox treated their viewers as a means and had disregard for their emotions. Fox took no action, and stood by Tucker Carlson, allowing him to make hateful, degrading, and misleading comments weekly on the top political news show in the country. By doing this, they showed a lack of care for their viewers, and furthermore showed their lack of acknowledgment for them as human beings. Fox treated their viewers as a mere means, not as an end.

Virtue Theory

             Courage, Justice, Honesty, and Self-Control are the four virtues to evaluate to find out if someone is being ethical in their business profession. These virtues are critical to a business in order to remain ethical, have a good public image, and maximize success. Fox News showed a lack of courage, as they allowed Tucker Carlson, and Neff to display such offensive and bigoted rhetoric every weeknight on live television. Their lack of moderation showed a blatant disregard for its millions of viewers at home, along with the company and show’s reputation of being reliable. Carlson and Neff both showed a lack of self-control numerous times when they let their personal opinions interfere with their job, which is to provide reliable and accurate news to the public. The offensive posts made by Blake are the complete opposite of everything him, Tucker, and Fox News stand for. Although Fox did issue an apology after Blake Neff was caught making the horrible posts online, they have not acted, or shown any signs of disconnection between themselves and Tucker Carlson. They do not have the virtue of Justice in their company, because if they did, Neff would have been fired long before, and Tucker Carlson would have had punishment for his offensive comments over the years, where sponsors were lost in the process.

Blake Neff

Justified Ethics Evaluation

            In my opinion, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, and Blake Neff all have a clear disregard for the stakeholders of Fox, along with people in general. Tucker Carlson’s lengthy history of controversial comments, with clear public backlash should have been a major red flag for Fox News when hiring him. Fox’s claim to be reliable is hard to defend after hearing controversy after controversy constantly about it’s top news show host. Blake Neff getting exposed was something that, in my opinion, Fox News and Carlson can never fully recover from. The man who was writing and preparing the monologue for the top-rated political television broadcast in the nation being exposed as a racist is a shocking headline that causes a huge amount of public relation problems. Tucker Carlson stands strong with his views on political issues, which causes him to receive a great deal of support, from the right leaning people in American politics, and a lack of support from the left leaning Americans. Tucker’s show is fueled on his opinion based political subject matter, which revolves around hot topic issues that are easy to start controversy. Ethically speaking, Carlson needs to be more careful about what he says, and Fox needs to do a better job at enforcing honesty, character, and justice within their company.

Action Plan

The current issue that revolves around this situation is that Tucker Carlson and Blake Neff have made controversial posts and comments over the years that have Fox News on constant watch by the American people. Fox News has become a hotbed for controversy. To resolve this issue, Fox getting rid of Neff was the correct move. On top of parting ways with Neff, Fox needs to perform a company wide rebrand, and let their employees know that offensive comments will no longer be disregarded or defended by the company. A set of core values that Fox should have moving forward should be to: Respect everyone from all different backgrounds, report honest, and accurate news in a timely fashion, and hold all employees accountable for their actions.

The new mission statement of Fox News is to bring you fast, reliable, unbiased news from all around the world. We respect and value all people from various diverse backgrounds and strive to appeal to everyone when it comes to delivering the news to our nation. This statement differs from the original because it focuses on encompassing everyone, and takes consideration for anyone who can be watching from home, no matter what their background or political views are. Fox needs to refrain from being heavily biased towards conservatives, and find a common ground that can be liked and appreciated by all political viewpoints.

According to the society of professional journalists:

Journalists should:

– Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.

– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.

– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

– Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.

– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.

– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.

Moving forward, Fox news should adhere to these principles to stay ethically correct and bring the channel more success in the future.




Works Cited

Darcy, Oliver. “Tucker Carlson Addresses Ex-Staffer's Racist Posts, Says He Will Take 'Long-Planned' Vacation.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 July 2020,

Folkenflik, David. “Fresh Scrutiny For Fox's Tucker Carlson As Top Writer Quits Over Bigoted Posts.” NPR, NPR, 13 July 2020,

Folkenflik, David. “You Literally Can't Believe The Facts Tucker Carlson Tells You. So Say Fox's Lawyers.” NPR, NPR, 29 Sept. 2020,

Michael Brice-Saddler, Eli Rosenberg. “Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Uses Racist, Homophobic Language in Second Set of Recordings.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Mar. 2019,

Michael Brice-Saddler, Eli Rosenberg. “Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Uses Racist, Homophobic Language in Second Set of Recordings.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Mar. 2019,

Michael. “Writer for Tucker Carlson Resigns After 'Abhorrent' Online Posts Are Revealed.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 July 2020,

Montgomery, Blake. “Fox News Executives Condemn Top Tucker Carlson Writer's Racist and Sexist Posts.” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 11 July 2020,

Salazar, Heather. The Business Ethics Case Manual. n.d.

Szoldra, Paul. “Marines Quietly Cut Ties with Former Top Tucker Carlson Writer after Racist, Sexist Online Posts Were Revealed.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 17 July 2020,

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