In the film, Carlson explains Hungary to his audience in easily understandable terms. It’s in Europe, he says, and is “about the size of Indiana, about the population of Michigan”. Carlson adds: “Like the midwest, it’s pretty flat here.”
Hungary, Carlson goes on to claim, is “an outpost of western civilization in the middle of Europe”. But for all Carlson’s fawning over the country’s direction under Viktor Orbán, its authoritarian prime minister, Hungary has lurched into political territory that demonizes immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and other groups.
In 2018 Orbán, who came to power in 2010 and was interviewed by Carlson in Hungary last year, described refugees as “Muslim invaders”, and also said: “We must defend Hungary as it is now. We must state that we do not want to be diverse … We do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, previously wrote an open letter to Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation, which owns Fox News, after Carlson’s previous documentary Patriot Purge aired on Fox Nation in October 2021. That film sought to sanitize the January 6 insurrection, airing conspiracy theories and attempting to absolve Donald Trump’s supporters of blame. Two Fox News contributors quit the network in protest against the film.
After Soros vs Hungary aired, Greenblatt tweeted: “On the eve of #HolocaustRemembranceDay, it’s appalling to see Tucker Carlson & FOX invoke the kind of antisemitic tropes typically found in white supremacist media. There’s no excuse for this kind of fear mongering, especially in light of intensifying #antisemitism.”
The documentary aired on Fox Nation, Fox News’s sister channel, which is a streaming-only service. But Fox News promoted it, too, in a tweet, while the documentary was given an uncritical write-up on the Fox News website, complete with an embedded video of a trailer for the film.
A Fox News spokesperson pointed to remarks Carlson made in previewing the film, in which the host said, “Orban may be the only world leader who stood up to Soros directly”.
“And so we thought that was interesting enough, enough of a metaphor for the struggle that is going on globally between nationalists and people who oppose them. We thought it was worthy of our season finale documentary for our series Tucker Carlson Originals,” Carlson said.
The film does not address the decades-long antisemitic attacks on Soros, although at one point in the documentary Carlson claims that the media is quick to “claim any attack on George Soros is antisemitic”.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Laura Silber, the vice-president of Open Society, said Soros and the group “have worked for more than 30 years to support vibrant and inclusive democracies whose governments are accountable to the people they serve”.
“Mr Carlson appears to prefer authoritarian rule, state capture of media and the courts, crony corruption and rigged elections,” Silber said.
Some prominent Fox News hosts, including Carlson, have a history of making comments or advancing arguments that have been deemed antisemitic or xenophobic. In September Carlson was criticized for promulgating the “great replacement” theory about immigration. Carlson denied that he was being antisemitic.
As recently as 27 January, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Laura Ingraham displayed a mocked-up image of Soros clutching bank notes on her show, as she claimed Democrats were using “dark money” to control the Supreme Court.
In December 2021 Fox News removed a cartoon from its Facebook and Instagram which showed Soros as a puppet master manipulating a Democratic district attorney and Democratic attorney general.