Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

Its out $787.5m and top host Tucker Carlson. Whats next for Fox News?

Its out $787.5m and top host Tucker Carlson. Whats next for Fox News?


Its out $787.5m and top host Tucker Carlson. Whats next for Fox News?

In less than a week, Fox News has agreed to pay out $787.5m in a huge legal settlement and fired its most popular host, in an unprecedented crisis for the US's most-watched cable news channel just as a critical presidential election cycle begins.

With the 2024 election essentially already under way, rightwing Fox News must now wrestle - quickly - with how to hold on to the audience that Tucker Carlson, the incendiary rightwing extremist who was fired on Monday, captured and cultivated during his murky seven-year tenure as a primetime host.

The early signs have not been great. Brian Kilmeade, a happy substitute, has already managed to lose nearly half of Carlson's 3 million viewers, who appear to have decamped en masse to Newsmax, Fox News' upstart competitor.

It's a challenge for Fox News, which in the past few months has also found itself embarrassed by court disclosures which showed that Carlson, among others, did not believe much of the election fraud invective that Fox News' audience was gobbling up night after night.

And with no ready-made replacement for Carlson - one viewer wrote on Twitter that they would "rather watch grass grow" than Kilmeade's efforts - the channel faces a battle to win back viewers and maintain its supremacy among rightwing media.

"Short term, I'm sure it will be a challenge, not just because they've lost Tucker Carlson, but because there'll be a backlash amongst his core fans, and the Maga-style Republicans who saw the way that Tucker Carlson was speaking to them, catering to them, and appreciated that," said Eric Deggans, a TV critic at NPR and author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation.

The way Carlson was catering to those viewers was unprecedented. Carlson, a privately educated multimillionaire, had a Trump-esque knack for knowing what would terrify and activate millions of mostly white, extremely aggrieved, rightwing Americans.

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