Does the primetime host’s firing signal the start of a culture shift at Fox?

As journalist Brian Stelter, author of the book Hoaxes: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Perversion of the Truth, Said this week: “This is a guy who thought he could say and do anything and all of a sudden it was proven wrong.

“What an incredible reminder of who really has the power here: the networks, not the stars.”

Days after Carlson’s sudden departure, however, the reason remains unclear.

Is this a fallout from the $787.5 million ($1.17 billion) Dominion settlement? What does the deal reveal about how Carlson and others at Fox were peddling Donald Trump’s lies about the election even though they knew they weren’t true?

Is this punishment for some of the vulgar messages he sent, including one describing a senior executive using the c-word?


Or has control been compromised by another set of lawsuits filed by his former producer, Abby Grossberg, who alleges he oversaw a sexist and hostile work environment that included a former spokesperson A picture of Nancy Pelosi in a bathing suit plastered on her workspace?

A strange theory, reported by well-connected people vanity fair Contributor Gabrielle Sherman even suggested that the final straw for Murdoch may have been Carlson’s public religious speech at the Heritage Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration last Friday night.

In his 36-minute keynote address, the soon-to-be-fired Fox host warned that national politics had become a Manichean war between “good” and “evil.” He then urged people to pray more and not engage in “fraudulent debates” with those who oppose them.

“That thing freaked out Rupert,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He doesn’t like all the talk about spirits.”

Regardless, Carlson’s firing represented a reversal for the billionaire Murdoch family, who have stood by him for years and stood by him even as advertisers boycotted the show because of his inflammatory views.

But whether it’s symbolic of a broader shift in the company’s values, or an acknowledgment that the web has become too extreme, is open to debate.

Angelo Carusone, president of the nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters, doesn’t believe Carlson’s departure will mark a long-term shift for Fox, noting that the network gave him the invaluable ability to grow in the first place, allowing him to grow on primetime at 8 p.m. 2016, He has since been paid to “throw red meat at the audience”. There’s also a chance that whoever replaces him will find an equally loyal and loud audience.

“Tucker acts as a bridge between Fox News and the most extreme parts of the right-wing base – whitewashing anti-trans bigotry, infowar bullshit, election lies and vicious rhetoric, including good substitute Conspiracy theories,” Caruson said. “But even without Tucker Carlson, Fox News is still Fox News. “

Stelter, on the other hand, was also fired last year as a CNN anchor reliable source According to the media, it is more optimistic.

“I like to believe that maybe Rupert Murdoch wants to drag his network back to something more grounded in reality,” he said in an interview. Fort Podcast this week.

“We look back and fire Tucker to put Rupert back in control. After being humiliated by the Dominion lawsuit and revealed to be this passive guy who just sat on the sidelines and let democracy burn, maybe, at his last In one scene, he’s trying to drag democracy back to reality.”

The fact that the shakeup comes just a week after the company agreed to settle with Dominion Voting Systems over Fox’s baseless allegations that the company rigged its voting machines is significant.

After all, this lawsuit is the biggest crisis the Murdoch family has faced since taking office. world news The scandal saw employees of a British tabloid illegally tap the voicemail messages of crime victims, politicians and celebrities, including Princes William and Harry, in search of pornographic stories.

The phone-hacking controversy forced Murdoch to close the newspaper and relinquish control of popular satellite TV service Sky. It also led to a string of high-profile resignations, with Murdoch and his son James being called to a parliamentary committee in 2011 as the fallout continued.

“This is the most humbling day of my life,” Rupert Murdoch told the committee at the time.

The Dominion lawsuit also shamed Fox, filing a damning flood of emails and text messages in court exposing how the network downgraded the reality of the 2020 election to fiction for fear its audience and profits would be lost to rivals.

Murdoch’s own testimony also offers vivid insight into the 92-year-old’s attempts to “fix” the problem of election fraud without angering the former president or his supporters.

“No one wants Trump to be the enemy,” he testified. “We all know Trump has a lot of followers. If he said, ‘Don’t watch Fox News,’ maybe some people wouldn’t watch it.”

AJ Bauer, a professor at the University of Alabama who studies and analyzes conservative media trends, said that while there is no doubt that the Dominion case has caused damage to Fox, he does not think it is the main reason for Carlson’s departure, or that it is a “fundamental adjustment” for the network. symbol of.

“Some of the worst defenders of lies are still out there during the 2020 election,” Ball quoted hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro as saying, “so they don’t Topple the apple cart or redo the whole show—they’re just getting rid of Tucker.”

“Given Fox is a company with human resources and procedures, a more realistic reason may simply be that Tucker has created a hostile work environment for quite some time and is becoming a liability on that front.”

according to New York Times, A key turning point came the night before Dominion’s defamation trial began earlier this month in Delaware.

That’s when the board learned of a privately edited message sent by Carlson in which he described at least one senior executive in extremely rude and derogatory terms. If the case goes to trial, Dominion’s attorneys plan to pressure trial Judge Eric Davis to allow them to use the contents of the redacted message to interrogate Carlson.

Some insiders worry that the texts may still affect another defamation lawsuit brought by software company Smartmatic against Fox, as well as two lawsuits brought by Carlson’s former producer, Abby Grossberg.

Such disclosures would support Grosberg’s claim that Carlson created an environment where “unprofessionalism reigns supreme and employees’ misogyny and contempt for women permeates nearly every workday decision.” Her lawsuit also alleges that when she complained to her superiors, she was told “it was Tucker’s tone, just the rhythm of the show.”

“Misogynist fish rot from the head down,” she said.

Fox and Carlson have denied Grossberg’s allegations, but this isn’t the first time the company has cut ties with a top executive who has become a liability.

For example, after former anchor Gretchen Carlson sued him for sexual harassment and more than two dozen other women accused him of sexual misconduct, legendary founder Roger Ailes, who helped build the Fox empire, Forced to resign in 2016.

Bill O’Reilly, Carlson’s predecessor on 8 p.m. Primetime, was also fired in 2017 following multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

On Fox rival CNN, veteran host Don Lemmon was also fired this week for making sexist remarks about women in their “peak” and accusations of his past treatment of female colleagues.

Meanwhile, Carlson was already facing an ad boycott, but his woes were exacerbated by Dominion court documents that exposed his behind-the-scenes arrogance, hypocrisy and denigration of colleagues.

One text message, for example, revealed he hated Trump “very strongly” even as he was promoting the former president’s claims that the election was rigged. Another revealed how he tried to get Fox White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich fired after he tweeted that there was no evidence of voter fraud, even though he privately agreed.

“If I were a large media conglomerate and I was doing a cost-benefit analysis, I’d look at him and say: Is he a net worth or a net liability?” Ball said. “And I think over the course of the last few months, a few things have shifted the calculation from assets to liabilities.”

Other reports suggest that Murdoch has grown tired not only of Carlson’s behind-the-scenes approach but also of some of his extreme comments. To quote someone familiar with Murdoch’s thinking, Washington post Among his latest concerns was Carlson’s stance on Ukraine, which included calling President Volodymyr Zelensky a “Ukrainian pimp” and lashing out at the U.S. government for providing military aid to the besieged country, the report said on Wednesday. , and push pro-Vladimir Putin narratives.

In fact, as soon as news of Carlson’s departure broke, Russian state media began mourning his departure, offering the primetime host a job offer and suggesting he should run for the White House.

“The American media has lost its last voice of reason,” Vladimir Solovyov, a prominent Kremlin propagandist and host of Russian state television, wrote in a Telegram.

“You will have our admiration and support in whatever endeavor you choose for yourself next, whether it’s running for President of the United States (which you totally should, by the way) or producing an independent media project. If you want to continue hosting People and hosts, we’d love to offer you a job!”

Back at Fox, executives may have reason to be slightly nervous, at least in the short term. Fox News Tonight, temporarily filling the 8 p.m. slot previously occupied by Carlson, drew nearly 2.6 million viewers on Monday — about 21 percent below the 2018 average, according to data released by Nielsen last week. tucker carlson tonight For the past eight Mondays.

In the 30 minutes after the announcement of Carlson’s departure, Fox’s shares fell 5 percent, wiping $590 million ($880 million) off the company’s market value.

On the other hand, Newsmax, a nascent right-wing cable network that openly catered to Fox viewers after Carlson stepped down, more than tripled its audience to 531,000 in its 8 p.m. slot on Monday. Time will tell if this trend continues in the long-term.

As for the infamous Tucker Carlson? In a short and cryptic video message posted on wednesday, The former primetime host spoke for the first time since he was fired, but did not directly address his firing or his future.

However, he did hint that he is far from done.

“Honest people are powerful when they speak the truth calmly and without embarrassment,” he said in a suit and tie, delivering a two-minute monologue just as he did on tonight’s Takkar as it did in the Mori show. “Meanwhile, the liars who try to silence them will back off and grow weaker. The real thing prevails… See you soon.

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