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 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.”