Considering his popularity and relevance, it is still mysterious that Fox News decided to fire Tucker Carlson.
Was it something that emerged in the devastating Dominion lawsuit? Did a coworker file a serious complaint about him? Did the executives at Fox decide the risks he took were more of a liability than an asset? Was it a combination of all these things, or something else altogether?
Whatever the reason, most people agree that Fox lost more than Carlson. While he can take his massive following and start fresh, Fox can hardly avoid looking like a domesticated conservative media company.
For many, Carlson was the only reason to watch cable television, let alone Fox. He was the one authentic person who challenged the Democrat and Republican party lines. As Daily Wire host Matt Walsh recently noted on his show, Carlson’s monologues were news events in themselves because they resonated so well with many Americans. Besides making him popular, Carlson’s authenticity and independence made him unique and likely irreplaceable.
Some people have compared his departure to that of Bill O’Reilly, who also commanded large audiences, but O’Reilly was a pundit for a different time. His brand differed entirely from Carlson’s. He cheered for the right’s old priorities: fighting terrorists, expanding global trade, and lowering the corporate tax rate. By contrast, Carlson voiced populist, anti-establishment, and non-interventionist opinions.
While O’Reilly is a relic of “Conservatism Inc.,” Carlson is emblematic of what conservative media has become: a wide diversity of voices on a variety of platforms that all oppose the leftist narrative propagated by legacy media outlets. By dumping Carlson, Fox’s leaders are deciding to return to the good ol’ days of Conservative Inc. From now on, news and opinion broadcasts will be safe, filtered, and milquetoast.
In the short term, this might protect Fox from more lawsuits and harassment, but in the long term, this assures that Fox will fade into oblivion along with the rest of cable television as alternative online media takes over.
Rather than treating this as a loss, conservatives should welcome the change. This might push more people, especially older generations, to abandon cable news altogether. Conservatives can leave the insipid programming of cable news for the leftist midwits who pride themselves on being (mis)informed.
Frankly, Carlson could not stay at Fox forever. Though he excelled as a cable broadcaster, his commentary, intelligence, and willingness to explore controversies fit new styles of conservative media too. When he could have stayed on script and let his popularity carry him along, he instead continued taking ever-larger risks and angering powerful people. In many ways, he had a stronger counter-cultural and anti-establishment bent than the typical punk rocker, which admittedly is not saying much these days.
As such, it is fitting that he can move into a medium that allows him to work on his own terms. Not only will this allow him more freedom to express himself and to amplify important voices and arguments, but it will also be more profoundly American.
Whereas state-run media controls information and thought in some foreign nations, Americans can listen to different voices all arguing and competing with one another to grow their audiences. Doubtless, American leftists hope to follow suit and destroy all alternative media and abolish free speech. Quite understandably, they see that only gadflies like Carlson, who dissent from their agenda, hold them back from complete cultural, political, and economic supremacy. This is why they devote extensive energy and resources to controlling all social media and cable media platforms. And it looks like they finally succeeded in taking down Fox.
Fortunately, leftist attempts to censor and control online public discourse have mostly played out like a clumsy game of whack-a-mole. They will silence one dissenter only to have 10 more pop up and say something even more “dangerous.”
Moreover, they cannot help but look like fascists and hypocrites every time they play this game, even angering those in the old guard like Bill Maher who at least try to be principled.
That does not mean their failures should make anyone comfortable with the assault on free speech and alternative media in America. People who are committed to the truth and a marketplace of ideas should continue to call out censorship and corporate monopolies.
Even if Carlson rebounds and Fox collapses, it is still outrageous that he was ousted in the first place. To turn this setback into a win, conservatives must see the intentions behind his exit, support alternative media, and (as Tucker Carlson said in a video after his termination) speak out against the falsehoods as confidently and frequently as possible.