It’s curtains for Tucker Carlson’s long running smash hit fascism extravaganza on Fox News. In the coming days, once all the crying and the screaming is done, we’ll surely hear rumors about the why’s and the how’s, but like a divorce between the two worst people you know, it actually doesn’t matter who broke up with who, or who is going to end up better off in the long run. What matters is that terrible people are unhappy today.
The news came as a shock to just about everybody. Media reporters noted that the end of the show seems to have come as a surprise to Carlson himself, as at the conclusion of his final show on Friday, he promised his audience he’d be back on Monday. His final segment was a promo for a Tucker Carlson original called Let Them Eat BUGS: Dinner is Served. He didn’t even say goodbye. We didn’t get to see him eat a single measly bug.
It’s a sad day for Tucker Carlson’s audience, old people whose adult children no longer speak to them and men who do not wash between their ass cheeks when they shower. Gobsmacked viewers vowed on social media that they were DONE WITH FOX. Whether they’re actually done with Fox remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Fox News’ share price tanked at the news. The big Tucker-shaped hole in the Fox lineup represents $700 million in lost market value, which has to hurt less than a week after Fox settled a $787 million lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems.
Others greeted the news with glee commensurate to the glee Carlson seemed to take in siccing his viewers on small town librarians, candy mascots, public school teachers, same sex couples who hold hands in Disney cartoons, and swing-state election volunteers. On The View, the hosts announced Carlson’s abrupt departure from Fox like they’d just seen white smoke from the Vatican. The hosts then led the audience in a festive singalong of Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” the official song of bad things happening to bad people.
Journalists—in particular, female journalists—who were favored objects of ire of Tucker and his minions seem to be enjoying the news with admirable restraint, considering the magnitude of headache being a Tucker target can bring. Washington Post tech reporter Taylor Lorenz, who was targeted by Carlson after a fairly innocuous tweet about women facing online harassment, tweeted, simply, “Well well.” NBCNews’ (and Daily Beast alum) Brandy Zadrozny, whom Carlson had targeted after she reported that a former Trump speechwriter spoke at a convention that hosted disinformation and hate speech, sent out a celebratory tweet bidding Carlson goodbye. I asked Zadrozny to elaborate. “I can’t say much,” she told me. “But it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” Former Teen Vogue writer and Carlson foil Lauren Duca could not be reached for comment.
As Media Matters for Americas Simon Maloy noted in a now-prophetic-sounding 2016 tweet, with Tucker Carlson Tonight’s abrupt ending on Fox News, Carlson has now had shows canceled on all three major cable news networks. Failing up? Maybe. But nobody has turned repeat failure into success quite like Tucker (except, perhaps, his frenemy Donald Trump). While at Fox, Carlson was massively successful. He reached millions of American homes per night. He has probably single-handedly ruined millions of Thanksgiving dinners and been the catalyst to some of the most lively Boomer-millennial fights on Facebook. That’s power. That’s clout.
Tucker Carlson will land somewhere else, because he has always landed somewhere else. Some of his viewers will follow him, because they always have. Whether that place is a Bill O’Reilly-style home recording studio in the basement of a Long Island megamansion, a place on one of the many conservative radio and podcasting networks, or a return to his Daily Caller stomping grounds, we will certainly have old Tucker Carlson to kick around, again, somehow.
Taylor Lorenz, too, urges chasing the schadenfreude with an ice cold glass of dread. “While people are celebrating right now, [Carlson] could simply make the jump to a platform like Rumble and become a powerful far right influencer and end up doing even more damage and still make millions of dollars with even less oversight,” she says.
Still, none of these possible second (third? fourth? fifth?) acts compare to Fox News in its current iteration. Carlson has been kicked down to the media’s minor leagues. Whether he comes back more powerful than ever before like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of professional douchebags, remains to be seen. But for now, he’s suddenly and very publicly unemployed, which is undeniably pretty funny.
Maybe a short Tucker break will give his suckers and marks a chance to reflect on what their hero thinks of them. Carlson has always somehow gotten away with selling himself as the voice of red-state male aggrievement while giving off the impression that he would not be caught dead hanging around the people for whom he allegedly speaks, at least not without some extra-strength hand sanitizer and a security detail.
As a host, he oozed contempt—for women, for non-whites, for immigrants, for gay people, and even, as we saw in texts published in association with the Fox-Dominion lawsuit– for Donald Trump and for his audience. He’s not one of those unhinged fascist lunatics who can’t help it: your Dan Bonginos or your Judge Jeanines or your Diamonds and/or Silks. His prep school Howard Beale schtick was always, transparently, a cynical act.