Tucker Carlson only inadvertently helped raise $ 14,000 for abortion rights

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Hours after the Supreme Court overthrows Roe v. Wade On Friday, Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves to pave the way for companies that would pay for employees’ expenses for abortion trips. “They’re against families,” the Fox News host said of the companies on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

But while Carlson made his comments, a picture from his show was actually used in a completely different way: to raise money for groups that facilitate abortion.

Anonymous online bidders in the digital space known as web3 offered thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency for an NFT created by a screenshot of Carlson on the show last year where he argued for body autonomy on coronavirus vaccines. NFT will continue to sell on Saturday for 12 eth – around $ 14,500 – with creator Jenny Holzer, saying she will donate the money she earns from the sale to groups including Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and DC-based law firm Group PAI.

(An NFT, or a non-fungible token, is a digital image that is uniquely stamped on the creator. Eth is the name of a popular cryptocurrency associated with the ethereum blockchain that many NFTs live on.)

The move emphasizes the freewheeling nature of web3, where wild money injections are mixed with loose standards for creative ownership. It also provides one of the strange acts of unintentional philanthropy – activists who are furious at the court overthrow of Roe who are raising money on the backs of someone who has strongly attacked the 1973 verdict. Last week, Carlson called Rogn “The most embarrassing court decision handed down in the last century” and a “widely recognized joke”.

On his program on May 11, 2021, however, Carlson spoke with Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) About Johnson’s decision not to receive a coronavirus vaccine. As Carlson agreed with Johnson – “Well of course; it’s your body, your choice, that we’ve heard for almost 50 years,” said the Fox News host – a chyron showed the body autonomy message. “Making an informed choice about your own body should not be controversial, “read the text at the bottom of the screen.

Planned Parenthood in Florida quickly noted the chyron’s parallels to abortion rights. These echoes also struck a DC-based communications strategist named Gillian Branstetter, who also observed some similarities with Holzer’s work. Holzer is a veteran artist known for combining texts and images to come up with political points. In the 1970s, she created the “Truisms” series, which made art out of messages such as “Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise” which she then sent in light of Times Square.

Shortly after, Branstetter took the screenshot of Carlson, Johnson and the chyron, adding the message “This is like a Jenny Holzer installation or something?” and tweeted it out to its tens of thousands of followers. Holzer then got the idea to make an NFT based on Branstetter’s tweet, and after the news that the court’s draft statement was changed Rogn broke in the spring, decided to sell it when the ruling came.

“I will admit a lot of ignorance about NFTs in general, but was happy to give permission for this work to help raise some much-needed funds for abortion access,” Branstetter told The Washington Post via a Twitter DM Monday . Branstetter is a communication strategist at ACLU, but emphasized that she carried out this action as a private citizen independent of her employer. Branstetter’s agreement with Holzer has led her to receive 15 percent of the money the artist receives from the sale, which she says she will donate to the DC Abort Fund.

In a telephone interview, Branstetter said she remained a little uneasy about how digital comments could be so effectively converted into significant fundraising.

“Don’t ask me to explain how my tweet turned out to be almost $ 15,000 for abortion rights,” she said.

Holzer did not immediately respond to a request for comment The Post made through her studio. In a statement announcing the sale, she explained her reasons for NFT. “Although the headline was meant to be read as an anti-vaccine remark, the words may also be a pro-choice statement,” she wrote of the chyron.

A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the network and Carlson.

Holzer put NFT up for auction around 12.30 on Friday, just after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization came down. She listed it for half an eth, or around $ 600. In six hours, a quartet of bidders had raised the price to almost 13,000 dollars, before the winning bid was given on Saturday around noon.

The sale on the Foundation NFT page listed an anonymous cryptocurrency address as the buyer. Norway Post found a Twitter account which in November last year had said that it was the owner of the address; that accounting, which tweeted Friday about the Holzer auction, saying it is affiliated with a group called PleasrDAO, which calls itself “a collective of DeFi executives, early NFT collectors and digital artists who have built a formidable yet benevolent reputation for acquire culturally significant pieces with a charitable twist. ” (DeFi refers to decentralized finance, the term used for financial transactions in web3.)

Despite the sale, who actually owns NFT is a complicated question, say legal experts. NFT was created by Holzer after a screenshot of Branstetter, but the image is of Carlson when he appeared on a Fox-owned show.

“I think it would come down to an argument for fair use, and both Fox and the NFT creators could make a case,” said Darren Heitner, a Florida-based intellectual property attorney with deep experience in this new digital space. “But I would probably lean to the Fox side that this is not fair use due to the fact that NFT is not really transformative and is definitely a commercial use,” he said, citing two of the legal criteria that would ban use. .

He said an interesting question asked by NFTs, which are often resold, would be whether Fox could theoretically win an injunction that would stop Carlson NFT from being sold again. “This is a very new area of ​​law, and I do not think we have worked out many details yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, those behind the NFT were less concerned with getting caught up in these details and more eager to spread the message about abortion rights.

“Physical autonomy and self-determination may be full, but privacy and health are the pillars of women’s reproductive rights movement,” Holzer wrote on Instagram. “Social health is the goal. We must protect the rights of the individual who protects the health of society. “

Jeremy B. Merrill contributed to this report.

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