Tucker Carlson: Why Did Fox Fire Their Most Popular Host?
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On April 24, Fox announced it was parting ways with Tucker Carlson, its most popular cable news host. During the first quarter of 2023, his show averaged 3.251 million views making it one of the most-watched shows in the nation. Among the coveted 24-54 demographic, Tucker is at the top.
The firing came as a shock to everyone. At the end of Tucker’s show on Friday, April 21, he finished his show with, “We’ll be back Monday!” He was as blindsided by the firing as everyone else.
Upon the news he’d be leaving Monday morning, Fox’s shares dropped, closing at 3% lower Monday evening. If they can’t come up with someone who can pull in a Tucker-size audience, this will be only the beginning of their financial decline.
So why on earth would Fox get rid of him?
A variety of rumors have been floating around regarding Tucker’s departure. Some, like his alleged plan to run for president, seem pretty far-fetched.
Maybe his firing was related to the Dominion scandal. On April 18, Fox agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Dominion for $787.5 million. Dominion (the voting machine company) alleged that Fox damaged their business reputation by accusing them of tilting the 2020 election in Biden’s favor.
However, as Megyn Kelly pointed out on her show, Tucker Carlson was one of the Fox hosts more skeptical of those claims. He repeatedly publicly asked Trump lawyer Sidney Powell to share her evidence regarding Dominion’s supposed fraud. She never did, and eventually became angry about being asked. Tucker was always public about his interactions with Sidney Powell; why would he get fired over this?
Some people think that this has to do with another lawsuit from former producer Abby Grossberg, claiming that Tucker Carlson contributed to a sexist atmosphere at Fox. However, considering that Ms. Grossberg was fired before Tucker, I think this one’s a stretch, too.
Tucker’s long history of annoying advertisers might have had something more to do with it. Disney and Papa John’s were big names that stopped advertising on his show after some comments about the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Red Lobster, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Farmers Insurance, Totes Isotoner, Graze, Sandisk, Pfizer, and many other companies pulled advertising from his show in 2018 after comments about immigrants making America poorer.
Tucker’s monologue on April 19 criticized the relationship between Big Media and Big Pharma. In fact, he opened it by saying, “Ask yourself: is any news organization you know of so corrupt that it’s willing to hurt you on behalf of its biggest advertisers?” He was obviously referencing the Covid jabs. I imagine this didn’t go over well with many of Fox’s advertisers.
Pharmaceutical companies are some of the biggest spenders on TV advertisements. It’s possible that Tucker’s monologue went too far, and they threatened to pull advertising dollars from Fox unless they got rid of him.
Politics may have played a role, too. This may have been part of a plan to derail Trump’s 2024 run, as discussed by Kim Iversen.
It’s been obvious to anyone paying attention that the Republican party has been in the throes of an identity crisis since the Tea Party, which began in response to the bailouts of big banks back in 2008 and 2009. There has been ongoing tension between establishment figures like Lindsey Graham and Paul Ryan and more independent populist types like Ron Paul and Donald Trump. Trump’s win in 2016 led to the “Never Trump” movement, of whom former Senator Paul Ryan is probably the most recognizable face.
Paul Ryan also happens to be on the board at Fox, as noted by Glenn Greenwald in his System Update. Is Tucker’s firing an attack on the populists by the establishment Never Trumpers? Who knows? But if Paul Ryan stays on the board at Fox, I think it’s fair to assume there is at least some connection.
But was Carlson actually ultra-right-wing?
It’s not like Tucker mindlessly parroted everything Trump said; his interactions with Sidney Powell are proof of that. But Tucker operates outside of mainstream thought lines and talking points, and so does Trump. Both of them try to get the American public to think critically about things like our role in NATO and why we’re willing to spend billions of dollars (and American soldiers’ lives, apparently) to defend Ukraine’s border but not our own.
Tucker was not loyal to either party. He was willing to present evidence damning to either side. Popular culture paints him as an ultra-Republican, but he lobbed plenty of rhetorical bombs at the Republican establishment, too. He continually spoke against the Washington Uniparty. He gave air time to Julian Assange’s father and brother, allowing them to discuss Julian’s side of the story. He released footage from January 6, which is alleged to have made Rupert Murdoch really angry. He has said time and again that his only loyalty is to the truth, as best he can find it.
I don’t agree with Tucker on everything, but he understands the importance of being honest and the increasing amount of courage it requires these days. In his speech for the Heritage Foundation’s 50th Anniversary last week, he summed up the past three years exceptionally well.
“You see people you know revealed as cowards, saying things you know they don’t believe because they want to keep their jobs, and you’re so disappointed in people. You realize the herd instinct is maybe the strongest, to be like everybody else and to not be cast out of the group. . . and to not be shunned. That’s a VERY strong impulse in all of us from birth and it takes over unfortunately in moments like this and it’s harnessed in fact by bad people in moments like this to produce uniformity. You see people going along with this, and you lose respect for them. I’m not mad at people; I’m just sad. How could you go along with this? You know it’s not true but you’re saying it anyway?”
Establishment figures really, really don’t like it when voices in the public square act like this, when they try to stick to the truth, when they refuse to pick a side. We saw that at the OP last year during our disagreement with NewsGuard. Daisy refused to say whether The Organic Prepper is left- or right-leaning, and we got punished for it.
And of course, we’re a small voice in the public space. But Tucker’s a giant; the fact that Fox is willing to kill its golden goose, most likely over ideological differences, says something about how powerful that ideology really is.
What’s next for Tucker Carlson?
I’m not too worried about Tucker. Russia Times has offered him a job. If he doesn’t take them up, well, he’s not the first media personality to get fired, move to alternative media, and do just fine.
Megyn Kelly went to Sirius XM. Glenn Beck (Fox’s most popular host back in 2010) founded The Blaze. Matt Taibbi and Alex Berenson went to Substack. Glenn Greenwald’s on Rumble. I’m sure Tucker will figure something out. And he won’t have nearly as many corporate overlords attempting to pull his strings.
Having said that, it still looks like he’ll be suing Fox. Tucker has hired Bryan Freedman (humorously enough, the same lawyer Don Lemon just hired), so we can expect to see some legal fists flying.
Tucker’s going to be fine because he has a massive independent following. Wherever he decides to go, millions will follow. But those who have wanted to see an establishment like Fox as an adversary to the left-leaning outlets have been proven wrong. Fox allows a certain amount of dissent from the mainstream, but only in very limited amounts.
I wasn’t paying attention back in 2010, when Glenn Beck got fired, in part because he criticized George Soros. But that should have been a big sign of where, at the end of the day, Fox’s loyalties really lie.
Tucker’s firing should serve as a wake-up call that the important arguments aren’t between Republicans and Democrats.
The real fight is between those content to let billionaires run the show and those of us that aren’t.
What are your thoughts?
We want to hear from you. Why do you think Tucker Carlson was let go? Do you like his show, or do you think he’s overrated? What do you think will happen next with regard to this situation?
Let’s talk about it in the comments section.
About Marie Hawthorne
A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.