The Departure of Tucker Carlson from Fox News: A Look at the Controversies and Future of the Network
On Monday, Fox News announced that it had parted ways with its highest-rated prime-time host, Tucker Carlson. The company did not provide a reason for his departure, but it comes just days after the network settled a $1.6 billion defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million. In the lawsuit, Carlson was set to play a prominent role, as documents revealed scornful text messages from him about former President Donald Trump, including one that said, “I hate him passionately.” Furthermore, Abby Grossberg, a former Fox producer who worked on Carlson's show, sued Fox, alleging gender discrimination and detailing specific allegations against Carlson's team. Carlson's exit is believed to be related to the Grossberg lawsuit, and Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch made the decision to remove Carlson.
Carlson had been a prominent voice in the far-right media ecosystem and the host of his own show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, for approximately seven years. Prior to his show, Carlson was a contributor to Fox & Friends as well as other programs. During his time as a prime-time host on Fox News, Carlson ascended to become one of the most influential figures inside the GOP. Republican lawmakers groveled at his feet, and former President Donald Trump granted him the first interview earlier this month after his arraignment in New York.
However, Carlson had been the subject of numerous controversies during his time at Fox News, including allegations of sexism and harassment on his show. Grossberg, the ex-Fox News producer who disavowed the network, claimed in recent lawsuits that there was rampant sexism and misogyny among Carlson's show team. Last month, she sued Fox News, Carlson, his executive producer Justin Wells, and other figures, as well as Fox's parent corporation. In her lawsuit, Grossberg claimed, among other things, that mocked-up photographic images depicted then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “in a bathing suit revealing her cleavage” and that staffers were polled on which of two female candidates for Michigan governor they would rather have sex with.
Despite Carlson's departure, Fox News will likely find someone else to take his slot, and it's a safe bet that this person will follow in his predecessors' footsteps and sound the same themes of grievance and resentment that have been playing in the 8 p.m. time slot on the network for 25 years. As for Carlson himself, while anything's possible, there's not much precedent for deposed Fox News prime-time stars remaining prominent after losing their platforms. Carlson has been a pernicious influence in Republican politics, pushing anti-vaccine theories and openly racist ideas.
In conclusion, the reasons for Carlson's departure are still emerging, and the steps he might take next are still unclear. However, Fox is likely to manage well in the absence of Carlson, and those who believe that his absence from television will lead to a better political conversation in the nation are overly hopeful. When prior bogeymen for the left—people such as Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck—have been pushed out of Fox, the network has always found a new figure to replace them, while the hosts themselves have struggled to match their past success. There will be a new Tucker Carlson, and it's a good bet he or she will be even worse.
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8. “Why Did Fox News Fire Tucker Carlson? What We Know” New York Magazine, 25 Apr. 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/04/tucker-carlson-has-left-fox-news.html
9. “Tucker Carlson's Successor Will Be Worse” The Atlantic, 24 Apr. 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/04/fox-news-bigger-any-host/673833
10. “Trump ‘shocked’ to hear of Tucker Carlson’s departure from Fox News” The Hill, 25 Apr. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/3969592-trump-shocked-to-hear-of-tucker-carlsons-departure-from-fox-news/