Washington

Voters Are More Likely to Blame Social Media Than Fox News, GOP for Spreading Extremist Ideologies

67% say social media companies are the culprit for the proliferation of ideologies such as white supremacy and antisemitism; 53% blame Fox News

Tucker carlson from fox news
Fox News host Tucker Carlson speaks during the Mathias Corvinus Collegium Feszt in Esztergom, Hungary, in August 2021. (Janos Kummer/Getty Images)

Democrats and even Republicans such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming blamed the GOP for elevating the racist ideology believed to have motivated the alleged perpetrator of the May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y. But more than any political party or cable news platform, a new Morning Consult/Politico survey finds voters hold social media companies and the news media responsible for the spread of extremist ideologies.

What (and whom) voters blame for the spread of extremism
  • Two in 3 voters (67%) said social media companies were at least somewhat responsible for the spread of extremist ideologies such as white supremacy and antisemitism, including similar shares of Democrats and Republicans. Another 64% blamed the news media, with Republicans (72%) more likely than Democrats (59%) to say so. 
  • Around half of voters blamed former President Donald Trump (54%), Fox News (53%) and the Republican Party (50%), driven by large shares of Democrats and pluralities of independents. A majority of Republicans, meanwhile, blamed CNN (65%), the Democratic Party (63%), President Joe Biden (60%) and MSNBC (59%).  
  • Four in 10 voters (39%) blamed Fox News host Tucker Carlson for proliferating extremist ideologies, including 54% of Democrats, 36% of independents and 25% of Republicans. That figure among all voters matches the share of the general electorate that holds Biden responsible.
Who has (and hasn’t) promoted white supremacist ideology

Biden has not promoted any white supremacist or antisemitic ideology – and in fact launched his winning 2020 campaign in Charlottesville, Va., on the promise to “restore the soul of America” after the racist Unite the Right rally in that college town turned deadly in 2017.

But Carlson has. America’s most-watched cable news host has used his show repeatedly to accuse Democrats of trying to “replace” the current electorate “with new people – more obedient voters from the Third World,” as he said last April.

His repeated allusions to the “great replacement” theory – a racist conspiracy that believes Western elites, namely Jews, are working to weaken white people’s power by replacing them with people of color – have been echoed by other Republicans. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) has received renewed attention for Facebook advertising that alluded to Trump’s own replacement-related accusations that Democrats plan to use immigration policy to “overthrow,” as she put it, the current electorate.

Cheney last week accused the House Republican leadership of having “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism,” and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) later said that Carlson and his network had spread a “poison.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) have identified online platforms as a key problem for the proliferation of such theories, something the survey showed most Americans of all political persuasions believe. But bipartisanship on this issue appears to stop there.

According to a Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted last week, very few Republican voters (16%) identified white nationalism as “a critical threat” to the vital interests of the United States over the next 10 years. Plus, GOP voters were more than twice as likely to express concern about the ideas behind “white replacement” than they are actual incidents of white supremacist mass violence.

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted May 20-22, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered U.S. voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult