Friday, 29 Sep 2023

Tucker Carlson leaves a toxic legacy at Fox News. Whats next?

Tucker Carlson leaves a toxic legacy at Fox News. Whats next?


Tucker Carlson leaves a toxic legacy at Fox News. Whats next?

Tucker Carlson, the far-right TV host whose embrace of racist conspiracy theories came to signify a shift further towards the right at Fox News, leaves behind a legacy of mainstreaming extremism after exiting the channel, and speculation is turning to any next step in an incendiary career.

The departure of Carlson, Fox News' most-watched and highest-profile host, came as a shock. It is the second seismic moment at the news channel in a matter of days, after Fox News agreed to pay a $787.5m settlement to Dominion Voting Systems last week after airing election conspiracy theories.

Fox News announced the split in a terse statement on Monday, stating that the channel and Carlson had "agreed to part ways". But the pithiness of the statement barely hinted at the dubious repercussions of Carlson's seven-year tenure as a regular host: a spell in which he seemed to grow into a force that Fox News wouldn't, or couldn't, control.

"Tucker Carlson basically leaves a superhighway to the rightwing fever swamps," said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, an organization that monitors rightwing media.

"Tucker took things from what otherwise would have been considered the fringes: Infowars [a far-right conspiracy theory website], these white nationalist communities online, he took that content and laundered it into the Fox News ecosystem, and basically built up an appetite for this amongst the Fox News audience.

"And once they sort of got a taste for blood, that's all they wanted. That's going to be a challenge for Fox moving forward, but what's his legacy? His legacy is bloodthirstiness and bigotry."

Carlson's eponymous show, which aired at 8pm ET, averaged more than 3 million viewers a night, and was generally the most watched cable news program.

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