Apparently, there are still a few contributors to Fox News with a conscience and a distaste for propagating lies and disinformation as truth at the right-wing news outlet.
At least there were still a few such contributors until Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, two of the conservative commentators that the network calls upon to fill up its panels of political pundits, resigned last week in a furor over the so-called “documentary” featuring the network’s prime-time white nationalist poster boy Tucker Carlson that claimed that the January 6th insurrection was a “false flag” conspiracy orchestrated not by Donald Trump and his MAGA hordes, but by the insidious forces of Antifa.
Some evidence-free conspiracy theories are too much even for the regular purveyors of Fox News‘ signature brand of right-wing propaganda and disinformation it seems.
With Tucker Carlson sitting high atop the prime-time ratings pyramid, the network has given their opinionated host tremendous leeway to say whatever fear-mongering idiocy that pops into his head, facts and reality be damned, whether it’s promoting the anti-Semitic “Great Replacement” propaganda that has been a staple of the white nationalist repertoire for decades and resurfaced at the 2017 Charlottesville tiki-torch march or ginning up anti-vaccination sentiment among his gullible, science-deficient viewers.
With more of an eye on the advertising dollars pouring in than on any societal responsibility to accurate reporting, Fox News will likely not be affected monetarily by the departure of two conscience-stricken old-school conservative pundits, but the smear on what little remains of its reputation for at least a partial grounding in reality may alienate that portion of its audience that hasn’t completely lost its senses.
The two Fox News contributors who reached the end of their rope when the network decided to broadcast Carlson’s latest lie-fest have strong roots in establishment conservative Republicanism, which now seems walled off into a separate category from the ascending lunatic fringe of the GOP spearheaded by extremist legislators like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and too many others.
Jonah Goldberg was formerly the editor of The National Review, the venerable right-wing intellectual magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. back in the 1950s, that was once a leading force in conservative thought before the age of QAnon.
Stephen Hayes was previously editor-in-chief of the now-shuttered Weekly Standard, the publication that anti-Trumper Bill Kristol founded as the home for neo-conservative opinion in the mid-1990s.
That brand of Ivy League intellectual conservatism — rooted in the power of the corporate oligarchy — has long been eclipsed by the extremist populism, still directed and funded by right-wing billionaires, ushered in by the Trump era.
Goldberg told NPR that Carlson’s prime-time special Patriot Purge was the motivating factor in his departure from the network.
“It’s basically saying that the Biden regime is coming after half the country, and this is the War on Terror 2.0. It traffics in all manner of innuendo and conspiracy theories that I think legitimately could lead to violence. That, for me and for Steve, was the last straw,” he said.
Hayes was equally critical in his remarks to the public broadcaster, targeting Fox News‘ promotional ads for the special for particular criticism.
“I thought it was irresponsible to put that out into the public airwaves,” Hayes said to NPR. “The trailer (for the series) basically gave people the impression that the U.S. government was coming after all patriots — half of the country, in the word of one of the protagonists in the piece. And that the federal government was going to be using the tools and tactics that it used to go after Al-Qaeda. And that’s not happening. That’s not true.”
“It’s a narrative that’s contradicted by certainly the vast collection of legal documents charging those who participated in January 6, the broad reporting by a wide variety of news outlets on what happened on January 6 then and in the time since — and contradicted in part by Fox News’ own news site and the reporting that people on the news side have done.”
Goldberg acknowledged that the pair were giving up considerable paychecks and access to a large audience with their resignations, emphasizing exactly how vehemently they felt about the issues that compelled them to take this drastic step.
“Being a Fox contributor is kind of a brass ring in conservative and right-wing circles, and I was well-compensated. I’m not looking to be a martyr or ask for pity or any of that kind of stuff. But it’s a significant financial hit, for sure. And it’s also cutting yourself off from a very large audience. We don’t regret the decision, but we found it regrettable that we had to make the decision.”
Sadly, the resignations of the two pundits will likely have little effect on the editorial direction of Fox News which continues to chase the advertising dollars that its sensationalistic lies elicit without regard to the damaging effects its disinformation campaign has upon American society.
Original reporting by Alex Henderson at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.