In a post earlier today, which envisioned what an imaginary “Mr. Republican” might be calculating about GOP prospects in the 2024 presidential election, I stated that such a figure might in part be thinking, ‘“Let Trump and [FOX News Commentator Tucker] Carlson take the party over the edge to what is currently looking like it will be a general election shellacking. …”’
While former President Donald Trump may take the Republican party over the edge in 2024, he may have to do it without Mr. Carlson’s help. 😉 As all who care – and probably some who don’t – are aware, Mr. Carlson was dismissed by Fox News today without so much as providing him a farewell broadcast. If Washington Post accounts are to be credited, Mr. Carlson’s transgression in the eyes of his employer wasn’t his private indication that he “passionately” hates Mr. Trump, or any doubt he sowed about President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral triumph, or his misrepresentations about the substance of the January 6th insurrection, or any of his countless other toxic discharges over the years … but because of his private criticisms of Fox News management — which would have included Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch – that were uncovered as part of the Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News. Perhaps Mr. Carlson forgot who the boss was.
One would have to assume that Mr. Carlson was, from an employment standpoint, a dead man at Fox either when Fox management learned of his criticisms or when the criticisms became public; and that Mr. Carlson’s dismissal awaited only the settlement of the Dominion-Fox suit, lest either the dismissal be touted by Dominion as an indication of Fox’ liability or because Fox feared that Mr. Carlson would testify against the network on Dominion’s behalf. Although one can be confident that the mini-me Foxes, Newsmax and OAN, would love to put Mr. Carlson on their air as soon as possible, and while employment law was never my field, one has to assume that Mr. Carlson’s contract with Fox prohibits him from broadcasting on another network for a specified period. He will presumably ultimately resurface, but without Fox’ trumpet.
Those of us who have been outraged and revolted by Mr. Carlson’s incendiary rhetoric over the years should be allowed a quiet smile at his abrupt dismissal; but the fact remains that Fox gave him the platform, just as in the past it provided its platform to, and then removed its platform from, Bill O’Reilly and others. Recall that Mr. Carlson’s ratings were initially disappointing when he in effect replaced Mr. O’Reilly in the Fox prime time lineup, but his viewership and attendant stature grew as he amped up his toxicity. It may take a bit, but by the summer of 2024, no matter where Mr. Carlson himself might then be, there will be a new version of Tucker Carlson in Fox News prime time. It is what it is.