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Good riddance to Tucker Carlson (and Don Lemon)
Yesterday was a good day for America. Fox News summarily dismissed Tucker Carlson from its ranks.
I don’t normally celebrate when something bad happens to someone, but I honestly think that Carlson is one of the people who has done the most to contribute to the deep divisions we are experiencing as a country. The fact that Tucker will no longer be spreading his lies on American airwaves (or cable to be exact) is a good thing for the country.
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But it wasn’t Tucker’s dishonesty or hate-mongering that led to his dismissal. It was the fact that he and his cohorts cost Fox almost a billion dollars in the company’s defamation suit by Dominion Voting Systems with the prospect of more payouts to come as other suits make their way through the courts. Tucker’s emails and text messages, unveiled for the world to see in discovery for the case, betrayed the fact that he knew full well that he was spreading lies about alleged election fraud but chose to rile up his viewers with the fake news anyway.
I’ve been a critic of Tucker’s for a long time. A few of my greatest hits involving Tucker include a piece where I noted that you often couldn’t tell Tucker’s quotes from those of AOC and Elizabeth Warren and a pandemic-era criticism of Tucker’s claim that the World Health Organization was going to “seize your children.” Spoiler alert: It never happened and it was never going to.
I even found an old piece in my archives in which Tucker criticized Sidney Powell for her stolen election claims in November 2020. He said at the time that Powell’s claims were unsubstantiated, yet he kept airing those claims for the next two years. As far as I know, he could have been airing them up until his last show last week and probably was.
And a lot of Tucker’s fans on Fox don’t understand that he was fired for lying to them. My Facebook timeline has been filled with people posting memes like the one below, which compares Fox’s termination of Carlson to Bud Light’s recent failed transgender marketing campaign. In other words, conmanTucker’s victims are standing by him.
As Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” That remains true today and Tucker’s fans are living proof.
Don’t weep for Tucker Carlson. His $35 million salary allowed him to amass a reported net worth of $420 million. Being a demagogue pays pretty well these days.
And I’m sure Tucker will land on his feet. There are other right-wing outlets like Newsmax and OANN that would probably be glad to risk (more) defamation suits to gain his audience. If those alternatives fail, he reportedly also has a job offer from Russian state television, where his support for Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made him popular.
But wait! There’s more.
Tucker wasn’t the only host sent packing yesterday. CNN’s Don Lemon was also given his walking papers.
I know Lemon isn’t very popular with the right, but I’ve never watched him much to see exactly why. If I’m totally honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever watched his show. He certainly did not have the audience or impact of Tucker Carlson.
CNN has not publicly commented on why Lemon was fired, but there have been reports that Lemon mistreated female colleagues as well as being reprimanded for saying that Nikki Haley was not “in her prime” at 51. (Hey, as a 51-year-old, I resent that! Okay, maybe it’s true, but I still resent it.) Lemon considers a woman to be in her prime “in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”
So, I’m prepared to say good riddance to both Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon. If the news networks are in the process of phasing out their “shock jocks” to focus on real news rather than conspiracy theories and insults of political figures, it’s a good thing.
If we’re lucky, Fox will add more hosts like Brett Baier, possibly the only serious journalists left on the channel, and CNN will replace Lemon with a moderate conservative that could help reestablish the network’s reputation as an objective news source. I’d like to nominate Shepard Smith, one of my favorite television news guys, who lost his excellent show on CNBC last year.
The opinion shows dealing in tinfoil hat theories and instilling hatred and fear of the opposition may generate views and clicks, but they aren’t good for the country. And even though they bring in lots of cash, they can also be billion-dollar losers as Fox News found out.
Nothing instills the desire to change one’s behavior like being hit in the wallet.