Tucker Carlson is gone from Fox, but his many lies still poison the psyches of the millions who watched him every night.
“Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” he said about Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen election in one of the chain texts with other Fox fixtures that came to light during the recent Dominion defamation lawsuit, which the network has since settled for $787.5 million
The texts made clear that Carlson himself did not believe the former president. Carlson merely preached that lie, along with a host of others, as part of an actual conspiracy run by Rupert Murdoch to build a gullible Fox audience—and hoard the accompanying wealth and influence. Carlson voiced his priorities in another text after Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich suggested on air that there was nothing to indicate that Dominion had been party to voter fraud.
“Please get her fired,” Mr. Carlson texted. “It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
Carlson was the one who got fired on Monday morning, perhaps for business reasons, but certainly not for telling the truth. He and Murdoch remain responsible for the damage they did no matter what they do in the future.
As Carlson’s I-know-the-real-truth voice and you-can-trust-me face beamed into the viewers’ home, the world outside them became an ever darker and more dangerous place.
“We used to shoot looters, not because he hated them, but in order to defend the foundation of all that we have, which is private property secured by the law,” Carlson said on his Tuesday show. “What you’re seeing instead is civilization unraveling, unrestrained violence and destruction effectively unchallenged by government authorities, the mindless breaking of things, the rage of stupid children. If you let that continue, there will be nothing left standing.”
That was the same day an 84-year-old avid Fox viewer named Andrew Lester shot and critically wounded 16-year-old Ralph Yarl after the teen mistakenly came to his door to pick up some younger siblings. Lester’s grandson, Kurt Ludwig, told The Kansas City Star that he was horrified. He added that he and Lester had once been close, but had lost touch in recent years as his grandfather fell under the spell of “a 24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia.”
“He’s become staunchly right-wing, further down the right-wing rabbit hole as far as doing the election-denying conspiracy stuff and COVID conspiracies and disinformation, fully buying into the Fox News, OAN kind of line,” Ludwig said. “I feel like it’s really further radicalized him in a lot of ways.”
The police suggested that race might have been a factor as well. Lester is white and Yarl is Black.
“I believe that there have been some positions that he’s held that have been bigoted or sort of disparaging,” Ludwig said of his grandfather. “But it’s stock Fox News, conservative American stuff. It’s ‘anybody who gets an abortion is a murderer.’ And ‘fatherless Black families are the reason why crime exists in this country.’”
Ludiwg added, “I stand with Ralph, and really want his family to achieve justice for what happened to them.”
Justice, it stands to reason, would extend to anybody who played a part in creating a climate of fear that led Lester to open fire when a young black man appeared at his closed front door. Yarl remained in critical condition with a head wound on Monday morning—just as karma caught up with Carlson in the form of Fox’s announcement that it had “parted ways” with him.
But Murdoch will just replace “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with “Fox News Tonight.”
Maybe the network’s new primetime show will simply push Ron DeSantis the way it once did Trump, firing up false fears about drag shows and vaccines and critical race theory. Something not likely to change is its remedy for all threats; guns, guns, guns.
But even if Murdoch now tacks toward truth, it will not be because he has suddenly embraced it. He fired Carlson only because he has decided it is the best way to earn more money and more power.
Whatever Murdoch does, the only justice for him will be if America finally decides not to watch whatever he puts on the air.
Now is the time for us to part ways with Fox.