By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business,
Editor’s note: This article quotes racist, homophobic and sexist language, much of which has not been censored.
The top writer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson has for years been using a pseudonym to post bigoted remarks on an online forum that is a hotbed for racist, sexist, and other offensive content, CNN Business learned this week.
Just this week, the writer, Blake Neff, responded to a thread started by another user in 2018 with the subject line, “Would u let a JET BLACK congo n****er do lasik eye surgery on u for 50% off?” Neff wrote, “I wouldn’t get LASIK from an Asian for free, so no.” (The subject line was not censored on the forum.) On June 5, Neff wrote, “Black doods staying inside playing Call of Duty is probably one of the biggest factors keeping crime down.” On June 24, Neff commented, “Honestly given how tired black people always claim to be, maybe the real crisis is their lack of sleep.” On June 26, Neff wrote that the only people who care about changing the name of the NFL’s Washington Redskins are “white libs and their university-‘educated’ pets.”
And over the course of five years, Neff has maintained a lengthy thread in which he has derided a woman and posted information about her dating life that has invited other users to mock her and invade her privacy. There has at times also been overlap between some material he posted or saw on the forum and Carlson’s show.
CNN Business contacted Neff for comment Thursday night. After he or someone acting on his behalf passed that email to Fox News spokespeople, a network spokesperson on Friday morning told CNN Business that Neff had resigned. A Fox News spokesperson said on Friday that Carlson could not be reached for comment. Neff did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In a memo sent to employees Saturday afternoon, after this story was first published, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace condemned “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 wrote. “Make no mistake, actions such as his cannot and will not be tolerated at any time in any part of our work force.”
Scott and Wallace said that Carlson would address the matter on his Monday show.
Neff worked at Fox News for nearly four years and was Carlson’s top writer. Previously, he was a reporter at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. In a recent article in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff said, “Anything [Carlson is] reading off the teleprompter, the first draft was written by me.” He also acknowledged the show’s influence, telling the magazine, “We’re very aware that we do have that power to sway the conversation, so we try to use it responsibly.”
When asked in a 2018 appearance on Fox’s “The Five” about the writing process for his show, Carlson said he spends hours working on scripts, but referred to Neff by name, saying he was a “wonderful writer” and acknowledging his assistance. And Carlson credited Neff in the acknowledgments of his book, “Ship of Fools,” for providing research. In the acknowledgments, Carlson said that Neff and two others who helped with the book “work on and greatly improve our nightly show on Fox.”
During the years that Neff wrote for him at Fox, Carlson has hosted one of the most influential shows on cable news. In the last quarter, Carlson had not only the highest-rated program in cable news, but the highest-rated show in the history of cable news. Carlson also counts President Trump among his most loyal viewers. On multiple occasions, the President has tweeted out videos of Carlson’s program. Which is to say, the scripts that Neff likely helped write and shape were being shared by the President of the United States.
While working at Fox News, and while a reporter at The Daily Caller, Neff was a frequent poster on AutoAdmit. Also known as XOXOhth, it is a relatively unmoderated message board like 4chan aimed at lawyers and law school students in which racism and sexism run rampant. The board’s vulgar content was previously the subject of much criticism, and two Yale students sued anonymous posters on the site in 2007 alleging they had defamed them and made threatening remarks. The Hartford Courant reported in 2009 that the lawsuit was quietly settled after some of the posters were identified.
Neff, who posts on the board under the username CharlesXII, is widely revered on the forum, with many posters knowing the person behind the account works on Carlson’s show. He has spent years posting about history, offering his political opinions, and detailing aspects of his personal life.
After learning of Neff’s posts on the board through an email from an anonymous tipster, CNN Business was able to positively identify CharlesXII as Neff by reviewing messages he has posted throughout the years on the forum and matching them up with publicly available information about him.
Among the details which make clear that CharlesXII and Neff are the same person: CharlesXII indicated on the board that he had gone to Dartmouth; Neff is an alumnus. CharlesXII said he had been working for nearly four years in his current journalism job in Washington DC; Neff has been working for Carlson at Fox in Washington since February 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile, which appears to have been removed after his resignation from Fox News. CharlesXII said on the board that he got his start in journalism after he turned down law school and instead took a fellowship; Neff told the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine that he took a fellowship with the Collegiate Network.
CharlesXII also wrote a parody version of the song “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and posted about it on the board, including a screen shot of an email he received from Carlson praising a lyric in the song. Neff sang the parody song at a Daily Caller Christmas party a few years ago, according to a person familiar with the event.
The Daily Caller declined to comment.
And in a 2017 Washington Post Date Lab article featuring Neff, he dropped a number of Easter eggs for the board, including referencing an “alcohol is poison” meme that he has repeatedly posted about and carrying a book on Catherine the Great to a date. His username on the forum, CharlesXII, is a reference to Charles XII of Sweden, a king known for his military victories and who abstained from sex and alcohol. Neff, a history buff interested in wars and military battles, has repeatedly disclosed on the forum that he rarely drinks and The Post story said he rarely dates.
Even more clearly identifying, however, were photos that CharlesXII posted to the forum in 2018 to the forum after visiting a museum in Egypt. In three of the photos, a reflection of Neff is visible snapping the pictures in the artifacts’ glass enclosures.
While at Fox News, Carlson has been accused by critics of making racist and inflammatory comments on air. His show has long appealed to extremists who agree with his hardline views on immigration, his emphasis on the preservation of Western culture, and his commentary on topics of race.
Carlson has at several points in his Fox News career found himself in hot water when commenting on such topics. In August 2019, for instance, Carlson became engulfed in controversy when he said the very real problem of white supremacy in America was a “hoax.” Most recently, Carlson saw more advertisers — including Disney and T-Mobile — flee his program in June after he said the Black Lives Matter movement was “not about black lives” and warned viewers to “remember that when they come for you.” (A Fox News spokesperson later said Carlson was referring to Democratic leaders, not Black Lives Matter protesters, when he made the comments.)
Carlson himself has in the past pushed back against allegations of racism. He told The Atlantic in December 2019 that such accusations are “so far from the truth” that it has “no effect at all other than to evoke in me contempt for the people saying it” because he thinks “it’s that dishonest.”
Bigotry and vitriol
In 2015, Neff started a thread on AutoAdmit mocking a woman, with whom he was friends on Facebook and whom he described as an “Azn megashrew,” sharing posts she had written about her dating life. He has continued to post to the thread and mock the woman, whom CNN Business is not identifying, as recently as late last month. In his first post in 2015 starting the years-long thread, he explained that “through circumstances” he couldn’t “quite recall,” he became Facebook friends with the woman and thought her posts about dating were amusing.
“So, I thought I’d post them,” Neff wrote. “I won’t put up a pic but it’s probably relevant to say that she’s a slightly overweight Azn woman who is in her mid-30s and definitely looks it.”
Through the years, the thread has generated nearly 1,000 comments — many of which used vulgar racist, sexist, and dehumanizing language to mock the woman. Neff also said he did not want other posters to harass her, but did not stop them from identifying her and posting links to her account. He also posted some photos from her account that did not show her face and continued posting about her dating life for years after the other posters had identified her.
Reached for comment, the woman told CNN Business, “When I was recently made aware of Blake’s posts about me on racist websites, I was overcome with disappointment which eventually mixed with bewilderment that he spent years dedicated to creating a false narrative based on my satirical writing about my life. The nature of online media is that your identity, while nominally under your control, is vulnerable to being misused. Any public figure can attest to this problem.”
In March 2020, Neff started another lengthy thread mocking a separate woman with whom he was connected on social media. The woman had posted about freezing her eggs, and Neff apparently found that worth deriding in the AutoAdmit forum. He began posting about her in March of this year, in a thread he titled “Disaster: WuFlu outbreak endangers aging shrew’s quest to freeze eggs.” Neff posted to the thread, which racked up dozens of comments as users ridicule the woman, as recently as June 28.
On the forum, Neff has also expressed bigoted views. In 2014, he joked about “foodie faggots.” And in the same year, he started a thread titled, “Urban business idea: He Didn’t Do Muffin!” He joked one item could be, “Sandra Bland’s Sugar-free Shortbreads!” In August 2019, a user started a thread titled, “We should just buy Canada and kick the Canadians out.” Neff commented, “Okay but what do we do with the millions of Chinese people.”
More recently, in February 2020, Neff called Mormonism “an inherently cucky religion.” On June 5, a user on the forum commented in a thread, “Didn’t Michael Brown rob a store and attack a police officer? And wasn’t [George Floyd] a piece of shit with a long criminal record? Jfc libs.” Another person commented, “It doesn’t matter to these people.” Neff then replied, “It does. The violent criminals are even MORE heroic.” On June 16, a user started a separate thread about a video showing a Black man assaulting an elderly white woman in New York. Neff commented on the thread, “And to think, if this guy got killed in some freak incident while being arrested, we’d have to endure at least three funerals in his honor.”
On the Fourth of July, Neff started a thread in which he jokingly “rated” members of the community using images from a 1990s video game from the makers of “Oregon Trail” that was pulled from the market due to its racist depictions of slaves. In the game, users play as slaves trying to break free and escape north. Neff assigned users on the forum images from the game, many of which depicted Black slaves using racist stereotypes. For instance, Neff assigned one user an image of a slave catcher, to which the user replied “[thank you] massa Charles for dis.”
On May 27, Neff wrote that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib — known collectively as “The Squad” — want to “MAKE YOUR COUNTRY A DUMPING GROUND FOR PEOPLE FROM THIRD WORLD SHITHOLES.” Responding to a thread on June 27 about whether “whites fear what’s going to happen to them in 10-20 yrs,” Neff wrote that he has “no plans to stay” in the country “that long.” In December 2019, he said that “once Democrats have the majorities to go full FK WHITEY, things are going to get really wacky really quickly.” He argued at the time that there is a “large minority of whites who are fully supportive of a Fk Whitey agenda” and that “there’s a suicidal impulse to Western peoples that honestly feels almost biological in origin.”
When not making his own bigoted comments, Neff has shown a willingness to respond to others who were, without expressing any hesitation, much less disgust, about what they’ve said. For instance, in 2016 he replied to a thread with the title, “Mary Poppins getting raped by a pack of wild nirs at the park; kids watching.” That same year, he commented on a thread titled, “DIKES get wrong CUM at CUMBANK. NR pops out.” Just last month, Neff replied to a comment on the thread that said, “And the n*s are always honor students or some bullshit.” (The language on both posts was not censored on the forum.)
Last month, Neff mocked a user who said they were leaving the board over concerns about the rampant racism on it. In a now-deleted comment, the user implored others to “consider the current environment,” writing, “The country is undergoing a great awakening to racist injustices throughout society. Maybe you should take this opportunity to consider whether continuing to post here is morally defensible at all, even if you aren’t posting deranged shit? I don’t think it is defensible, which is why I am leaving.”
On June 16, Neff responded by quoting the user’s words and adding, “LMAO if you think this shit will save you when the mob comes for you. Good riddance.” The language notably echoed Carlson’s comment, eight days before, when he had said “remember that when they come for you.”
In February 2018, a user on AutoAdmit posted, “At some point in the future, all ur xo posts (w/IRL name) will be public record.” One person commented, “I stand by every poast.” Neff upvoted that comment.
When he had just started working at Fox News, Neff was apparently less cautious and more willing to risk exposing his identity for a chance to show off to his fellow posters.
One night in February 2017 — which, according to his LinkedIn, would have been Neff’s second month with Carlson at Fox News — Carlson tripped over his words as he introduced a guest. The phrase Carlson was trying to say was, even for the host’s florid style, a little out of place: “Sweet treats of scholarship.”
Within minutes, Neff was posting to AutoAdmit about Carlson’s use of the phrase, which other posters gleefully noted was a reference to something said on the forum.
Neff’s caution since then may have resulted in fewer Easter eggs being slipped into Carlson’s scripts. But there has still been at least some overlap between the forum and the show, including in recent weeks.
Sometimes, material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson’s show. For instance, on June 25, Neff responded to a post that quoted a news story about coronavirus-related interest in Montana real estate. He wrote on the forum, “Interest in real estate in Bozeman, Missoula, and the Flathead Valley has been on the rise for years.” That night, in his monologue, Carlson said, “You’re starting to consider maybe moving to Bozeman, and why wouldn’t you?”
In some cases, language Neff used on the forum ended up on the show. The night of June 15, in commenting on a football coach who was the subject of controversy over a sweatshirt he’d worn, Neff wrote on the forum, “[I]t is your f***ing right as an American to wear whatever T-shirt you want, and hold whatever political views you want. Christ.” The next night on his show, Carlson said, “And they can wear whatever shirts they want. You thought that was true. You thought that was your right as an American.”
Other times, Neff may have used knowledge he had gained in his job at Fox News to post to the board. On the afternoon of July 1, Neff started a thread titled, “Two GOP senators propose replacing Columbus Day w/Juneteenth.” In the thread, he wrote, “Coming out this afternoon if it isn’t out already.” That afternoon, it was public; that night, the proposal was discussed on Carlson’s show.
Main photo: Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New York, Thursday, March 2, 2107. Richard Drew/AP