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Fox News finally popped its biggest fascist pimple.
After more than a decade of enthusiastically profiting off his unapologetic racism, easily disproved lies, and bug-eyed jock-riding, Fox News on Monday made the surprise announcement that it had “agreed to part ways” with preeminent demagogue Tucker Carlson effective immediately, do not pass go, do not collect $200, so long and thanks for all the fash.
Network staffers were reportedly heartbroken by the news, sharing messages of solidarity with their now-deposed figurehead like “good riddance,” “pure joy,” and other inspiring sentiments that really speak to how beloved Carlson was amongst the cable news giant’s rank and file. Fox shareholders, paragons of moral fortitude that they are, reacted with similar grace and humility, tanking the network’s stock by nearly a billion dollars in the hours after Carlson’s outster. Glenn Greenwald was Extremely Chill And Normal about the whole thing.
While neither Fox nor Carlson has confirmed just why the network axed its biggest cash cow, all available evidence suggests that Tucker was caught wholly unawares by a decision that had less to do with his extreme public racism, and more to do with the fact that he talked a lot of shit about the company c-suite and opened the company up to a major sexual harassment lawsuit.
In this, Carlson’s ignominious fall from… well, not “grace” exactly?…is a microcosm of American conservatism itself: a place where you can make a small fortune as the most irredeemable garbage person imaginable—just so long as you don’t hurt the feelings (or the bottom line) of the suits who make their significantly larger fortunes off you. That’s capitalism, baby!
Meanwhile, Carlson’s impact over the decade-plus he spent at Fox is significant for two reasons—first, because of the degree to which he’s been able to shape public sentiment for the worst; and second, for how surprisingly easy it is to summarize his whole deal: if there was a grifter to platform, or a Mexican to lie about, or a white nationalist to endorse, Tucker was there, oscillating frantically between wide-eyed credulity and squinty doom-saying. It’s as simple as that.
There’s no special skill involved in becoming incredibly popular with gun-totin’ peepaws and neo-Nazis, really—Fox is full-to-bursting with people like that. Tucker’s “talent,” if you want to call it that, is being able to determine the exact decibel level at which to say the most insane, bigoted shit you’ve ever heard to a mass audience. Any louder, and he’d come off as too unreliably unhinged for the Greenwalds and Tulsi Gabbards of the world who willingly launder his bullshit through their “credibility” (lol) in exchange for a shot at his sizeable viewership. A bit softer and the senior citizens who stay up to watch his show would all be snoring in their Barcaloungers.
If Carlson is unique at all, it’s largely because he’s been measured against the likes of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, who each have the exact same shtick as he does, but can’t quite sell it as well as he does. Tucker’s not a transformational figure or a particularly interesting one either. He’s just a guy with an innate sense of how to say the right racism at the right time to the right people. In that sense, he’s pretty easily replaceable—it might take a little time and grooming, but there are plenty of farm league Tuckers out there just waiting for their shot.
I’m not all that worried about what Carlson is going to do next. Maybe he’ll end up at Newsmax, or OAN, or (please no) Substack. I don’t really care. Knocked off his perch high atop Fox's sizable market share, he’s just another racist dork in the crowd. When’s the last time you spared a thought for Bill O’Reilly? Exactly.
I can’t think of any measure of justice to adequately match the degree to which Carlson has made the world a worse place—at least, none that I can say out loud. But watching Tucker get shitcanned and publicly humiliated for being both too much of a sniveling little toadie, and not enough of a sniveling little toadie, is a nice place to start.