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BEHIND THE SCENES: The ignominious fall of Tucker Carlson

BEHIND THE SCENES: The ignominious fall of Tucker Carlson


The tale of Tucker Carlson’s demise has been told and retold, but much of the tales we’ve heard are untrue because each story, no matter how extensive the report, tried to pin down a specific reason.

According to Brian Stelter, however, Carlson wasn’t fired for anything — he was fired for everything.

Writing for Vanity Fair, Stelter paints the picture of Tucker Carlson as a force of nature and not a good one. It isn’t tough to believe. Carlson had been previously fired by CNN and MSNBC.

But he seemed — and acted — invulnerable at Fox News because he had the highest-rated show in media news.

Those ratings, however, didn’t translate into nearly as much money as one would expect. Many advertisers refused to run ads in his time slot because of his reputation for racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

He also became known for his bizarre, fact-free reporting on everything from the accusations that the FBI orchestrated the January 6th insurrection to stories that demonstrated his intense loyalty to Russia that don’t seem to have an innocent explanation.

It isn’t hard to imagine network C-Suiters being uncomfortable having their star regularly played on Russian state television.

Still, there was no indication ahead of time that Carlson was teetering.

Stelter smartly notes that the right-wing news star’s termination didn’t just come as a shock to Carlson and his audience.

It rocked the entire Republican party. The GOP used Carlson’s show as the town square. It was the echo chamber for talking points that came from and went to the GOP.

While Stelter emphasizes that dozens of factors came together to ensure the demise of the Fox News anchor baby, Vanity Fair‘s article makes it crystal clear that one justification alone could have sufficed.

Carlson was such an asshole at work that no one, even the guy with the highest-rated show, could survive. He wasn’t just toxic. He was a walking superfund site that no one outside his show liked.

He often called people a word that starts with “c” – one I won’t even reference. It is too ugly.

Per Stelter’s report:

“Through interviews for my book, Network of Lies, I found that Carlson’s producers and writers were more loyal to him than to Fox as a network. They were a saboteur squad of true believers, regarding the mother ship as almost enemy territory, since as a Fortune 500 company, Fox Corp had policies in place promoting diversity and supporting transgender employees—the very types of things Carlson railed against on air. Of course, Carlson always genuflected to Fox in public, praising the network for letting him “say what we think is true.” But his expressions of gratitude to Fox didn’t fool management because they knew how he acted in private. Six years in prime time had reshaped Carlson, darkened his heart, driven him to the edge. He berated Fox News executives in New York. He belittled people (like me) who scrutinized him. In the view of some of his own colleagues, he became unglued.”

For those of us who had to regularly report on his latest outrageous lies or racist statements, the personal and public descent was obvious.

By the end of Carlson’s tenure, he was attending CPAC Hungary. Hungary is Europe’s most authoritarian and racist state outside Russia.

Tucker Carlson loved it. He praised Viktor Orban. One cannot talk about Orban without addressing the racism. As quoted in a separate Vanity Fair report:

 “This is why we have always fought: We are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race,” said Orbán during a Saturday speech in Romania, adding that Hungary will not join in with Western Europe’s “mixed-race world.” During a Thursday press conference, Orbán issued a follow-up statement saying that he openly supports “anti-immigration policy,” before also claiming that it “is not a race issue for us, this is a cultural issue.”

It is possible that Carlson was always a hardcore racist but kept it better hidden at first. By the time he left Fox News, the racism was dripping and couldn’t be waived away.

His hold on the GOP dragged the party and viewers deeper and deeper down a hole they already occupied.

Fox and Dominion executives were shocked to find a text he sent on January 6th as he watched three “Trump guys” jumping an “Antifa” type and urged that the leftist be killed. Carlson texted:

“Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: This isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be.”

Carlson’s text addressed the fact that he wanted a person dead, not the comment above about it being “dishonorable” and “how white men fight.” That portion he believed to be honorable.

Stelter concludes that it was a combination of everything. The toxic environment, the fear of his tweet coming out in the Dominion suit, his belief that he was utterly invulnerable, the hatred toward the rest of Fox, and much more led to his instant termination.

Unfortunately, the disappearance of the Fox News talking head ultimately had little impact on the MAGA movement.

MAGA fanatics will always seek their message. They must have a regular diet. It is their sustenance.

They took their lessons from Tucker Carlson and, like him, continue to drift right toward authoritarianism, open racism, open hatred for other Americans, open loyalty to Putin, and the fight against anything they consider “woke.”

The beat goes on.

At least Tucker’s appearances on Russian television are gone…for now.

This column is based on a deep dive from Brian Stelter for Vanity Fair.

I can be reached at and on X @JasonMiciak.

Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.

Jason Miciak
Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing. Sign up to get all of my posts by email right here:

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