April 25, 2023

Tucker Carlson: Too True for Fox

By ousting its most popular and most populist personality, weak-kneed Fox News made clear that it doesn’t have the guts it once did.

Quick: What’s the common thread between the FBI’s refusal to release the Nashville assailant’s manifesto, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett’s threatened imprisonment of independent journalist Matt Taibbi, and Tucker Carlson’s ouster from Fox News?

If you said “censorship,” you win a Cadillac Eldorado a set of steak knives. If you said something else, then you might not understand the defining issue of our time — which is the freedom to say what we want to say and to hear what we want to hear. Nothing is more fundamental or more important. (There’s a reason why those five expressive freedoms are enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment.)

“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” the network said in a terse statement yesterday morning that left millions of Americans — including this one — slack-jawed. “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor. Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st.”

And that was that. Just a simple dismissal of the nation’s leading cable news network’s biggest star — the guy whose late-night reruns used to trounce the primetime shows on CNN and MSNBC.

As the LA Times reports: “People familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment publicly said the decision to fire Carlson came straight from Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch with input from board members and other Fox Corp. executives. According to one person familiar with the discussions, Murdoch’s son Lachlan, executive chairman of Fox Corp., and Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, decided late Friday that Carlson had to go.”

“Have agreed to part ways” is, in this case, a euphemism for a firing. As one source intimated, Carlson was “stunned” by the news.

And why wouldn’t he be? Carlson, 53, was the best in the business — the most interesting, the most provocative, the most compelling, the most scathing personality out there — and no one else was even close. The numbers bore that out, week after week after week. But in a numbers-driven business, the Fox News potentates decided that their mild and moderate sensibilities were more important than calling out the wrongness of the world around us: the nihilism of the Left, the cognitive decline of the American president, the wickedness and cultishness of the transgender movement, the incessant race-baiting of the Democrat Party, the craven DEI obsessiveness of corporate America, the socially engineered destruction of our military, the corruption of the FBI, the two-tiered justice system that pervades us — we could go on. And Carlson did go on. And on. And on.

Carlson wasn’t the only one who was stunned. His former Fox News colleague, Dan Bongino, who was recently let go as well, was on air yesterday when he got the news of Carlson’s dismissal. “Folks, I’ve gotta tell ya, I’ve got actual goosebumps here,” Bongino said upon getting the news. “I’m stunned. I don’t even know what to say right now.”

Carlson took other brave and unpopular stances, too — stances that put him at odds with the Mitch McConnell wing of the Republican Party, but greatly endeared him to the party’s populist base: the injustices and inconsistencies of January 6, for example, and our appallingly expensive and dangerous proxy war in Ukraine.

Some pundits are suggesting that Carlson’s refusal to fall in line with the January 6 narrative of Nancy Pelosi and Liz Cheney, and instead challenging the official story about characters such as Ray Epps and Jacob Chansley, is part of what sealed his fate at Fox News. He seemed to have been muzzled from sharing additional footage and commentary on the J6 tapes, especially after having promised to do so at the end of his initial airing of them.

Others suggest that it has something to do with the discrimination lawsuit of a former Fox News producer, Abby Grossberg, who was fired by the network last month. Carlson’s senior executive producer, Justin Wells, has also been terminated.

Then there were the advertising dollars. As National Review’s Jim Geraghty writes, “Carlson’s high ratings were somewhat offset by the effects of the advertiser boycott. He attracted a huge audience, but apparently most of America’s biggest companies just didn’t want to be associated with him.”

Can you imagine advertisers being scared off by, say, Rachel Maddow or Chris Cuomo or Don Lemon if they she enjoyed numbers anywhere near Carlson’s? Neither can we. Corporate America is largely gutless, and they’ve caved to a woefully small speech-suppressing Mafia. (Did we ever mention that The Patriot Post doesn’t accept so much as a single dollar of outside advertising? This is one of the reasons why.)

Unlike Carlson, Glen Beck, himself a former Fox News asset, sensed that this moment was coming. “We’ve been preparing an offer for him for a few days just to be ready in case,” he told yet another former Fox News personality, Megyn Kelly. “It’s looked dicey for a while. We hope to present him an offer at The Blaze. He wouldn’t miss a step. He’d just take it and go. I mean, I think Tucker will do very very well for himself.”

“Way to know your audience” said Kelly. “Tucker was the only reason anybody ever talked about Fox News.”

The consensus, then, is that Carlson won’t be off air for too long. But one could still practically feel the giddiness of the Left yesterday, as the loudest voice in opposition to it had been, at least temporarily, silenced. But if we were to venture a guess, we’d say that Carlson and Wells will end up together again at some network with more guts and fortitude than Fox News.

And so, Carlson signed off on Friday for the final time, and without even knowing it. It was perhaps fitting, then, that he did so while eating a pizza which had just been delivered by his final guest, a deliveryman named Tyler Morrell who’d endeared himself to Carlson and the rest of the nation when he momentarily stepped off a customer’s front porch to trip a suspected carjacker being chased by the cops — without even dropping the pizza. It was a fittingly populist touch.

“We’ll be back on Monday!” he said. And little did we know he wouldn’t.

This weekend, Carlson was the keynote speaker at The Heritage Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, and his remarks were vintage Carlson:

The truth is contagious. Lying is, but the truth is as well. And the second you decide to tell the truth about something you are filled with this power from somewhere else. Try it! Tell the truth about something. You’ll feel it every day. The more you tell the truth, the stronger you become. That’s completely real. It is measurable in the way that you feel.

And of course, the opposite is also true. The more you lie, the weaker and more terrified you become. We all know that feeling. You lie about something and all of a sudden you are a prisoner of that lie. You are diminished by it. … Drug and alcohol use is the same way. It makes you weak and afraid.

Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was that rarest of commodities: a populist with three surnames. And he was also the bravest personality out there. Sure, he hyperbolized. Sure, he used “always” and “never” sometimes when he could’ve been more measured. But he also waved “a banner of bold, unmistakable colors with no pale pastels,” as a man named Ronald Reagan once put it. And that — not mealy-mouthed equivocation — is what these times demand.

If we’re to look for a bright side, we’d say that Carlson is now free to exercise his God-given talents in some venue more deserving of them than Fox News. And he likely will, soon enough.

About halfway through his speech at Heritage, Carlson gave what we think should’ve been his closing remarks: “Every man is kind of trained from birth to fantasize about what he would do when the building catches fire and you hear a baby crying. And so you run inside. No one is trained to stand up in the middle of a DEI meeting at Citibank and say, ‘This is nonsense.’ And the people who do that — they have my deepest admiration. And so their example really gives me hope. It thrills me.”

That sort of example should give all of us hope. If we let the liars and the censors win, all that matters will be lost.

Updated with some additional news and commentary here and there.

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