On Monday, Fox News announced that they are “parting ways” with Tucker Carlson—the highest-rated host in cable news. Carlson’s final show aired last Friday, and he signed off by telling his audience, “We’ll be back on Monday; in the meantime, have the best weekend.” The network continued to run promotions for him over the following days, which seems even more strange considering that the decision to move on from Carlson was reportedly made last Friday night.
Why did Fox News “part ways” with Tucker Carlson?
While, as of this writing, it’s unknown exactly why Carlson and Fox News parted ways, many believe it may be connected to the network’s recent settlement with Dominion Voting Systems to the tune of more than $787 million for airing false claims about the 2020 Presidential election and Dominion’s role in the reported controversy.
As the case played out, private text messages between Carlson and the producer of his show, as well as with other Fox personalities, revealed that Carlson’s private feelings about the election and former president Donald Trump did not always align with the message he shared on his show. In a text to one producer, he wrote, “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” later adding that “I hate him passionately” and “I can’t handle much more of this.” He also described claims that the voting software was manipulated as “absurd” despite giving significant airtime to those claims. (Denison Forum has previously covered claims of election fraud in “How fair are the US elections?”)
Carlson is also currently facing a lawsuit from the previous top booker for his show—Abby Grossberg—who claims that his team created a sexist and misogynistic environment. For similar reasons, some employees inside Fox News told CNN that there’s “a lot of relief generally . . . and hope for a culture change” following Carlson’s departure.
Yet, despite the revelations and accusations, it is still surprising to see the network split with the controversial host.
Carlson’s show brought in roughly $77.5 million in ad revenue last year, which was $10 million more than in 2021. And it would appear that most are wary of the means by which Fox will attempt to recoup that value.
In the wake of the move, Fox’s stock prices dropped 5.4 percent—more than $590 million—after they had been rebounding in recent days. By contrast, stock in Rumble—where many have speculated Carlson will take his show—rose by 7.4 percent.
But while uncertainty persists over the futures of both Fox News and Carlson in the wake of their split, it is unlikely that the controversial host will lose influence or fade from the public eye.
The same cannot be said for another prominent news figure who was also let go yesterday.
Don Lemon’s history of hostility
After seventeen years at CNN, Don Lemon was fired on Monday morning, roughly an hour after the news broke about Tucker Carlson’s departure.
Lemon tweeted “I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. I am stunned. After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network. It is clear that there are some larger issues at play. With that said, I want to thank my colleagues and the many teams I have worked with for an incredible run. They are the most talented journalists in the business, and I wish them all the best.”
But while the network’s initial response thanked him for his time, promising that he “will forever be a part of the CNN family,” they later clarified that Lemon was “offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.” It was hardly the first time that Lemon was accused of twisting the truth to suit his own ends.
However, his penchant for provocative statements was initially one of the primary reasons that he became one of CNN’s most prominent hosts. His open challenges of Donald Trump during the latter’s presidency endeared him to many in CNN’s audience. But, as Tatiana Siegel recently profiled in Variety, his co-hosts and colleagues frequently failed to share that same enthusiasm.
In 2008, two years after coming to CNN, Lemon co-anchored the network’s weekday show with Kyra Phillips. As Siegel writes, “For months, tensions between the pair kept mounting,” and “on more than one occasion, a ‘Live From’ producer and a newsroom supervisor had to pull Lemon off the air during a commercial break because of the anchor’s provocative antics.” After Phillips received an assignment that Lemon craved, he reportedly sent her threatening texts through an anonymous account, saying, “Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it.”
Similar patterns played out with other female colleagues to the point that Lemon developed a reputation as someone “who flouted rules and cozied up to power all while displaying open hostility to many female co-workers. Each and every time, he appeared to charm his way out of facing any meaningful consequences.”
That free pass apparently went away, however, when WarnerMedia changed personnel at the top of CNN in 2022. His comments regarding Nikki Hailey and women only remaining in their prime in their “20s, 30s, and maybe 40s” earned him near-universal scorn. Even after returning to the morning show on which he made that claim, it seems he remained in hot water with many at the network, and they eventually decided that the host was not worth the trouble he brought, both in public and in private.
Finding the right road
While the future prospects for Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon look vastly different at the moment, both remind us that no amount of success can render us immune from the consequences of our choices. Whether in this life or before the judgment seat of God, we will all be held accountable by the Lord (Hebrews 4:13).
But while that thought often breeds a sense of fear and foreboding, it doesn’t have to.
God’s mercy is such that he often holds off on affecting judgment for our mistakes in order to give us time to own them and repent on our own. When we do, he stands ready to forgive us and help us grow in our walk with him. However, the longer we wait to seek his forgiveness, the more difficult it often becomes for us to accept it.
C.S. Lewis speaks to this truth well when he notes, “If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road . . . going back is the quickest way on.”
Where have you strayed from the right road today?