If Fox News Thought Firing Tucker Hurt, It's in for an Even Bigger Nightmare Next: Report
Fox News has been losing viewers since its firing of Tucker Carlson last month.
And the network might be losing more than viewers: There are rumblings that other Fox News hosts are thinking of jumping ship and joining Carlson in his new venture on Twitter.
Amid continuing speculation about why the host of the prime-time ratings juggernaut “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was jettisoned, Variety reported Tuesday that Fox News made an unwritten agreement to the firing as part of its $787.5 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over claims about the 2020 election.
Carlson’s broadcasts about Dominion were not at issue; rather, forcing the firing as part of the settlement would strike a major blow to the conservative-leaning network, Variety said — and it would keep Fox News and its controlling Murdoch family out of a risky jury trial.
Think of how that went down with other Fox News hosts.
First, they would be working for a network that made its most popular host expendable. They might be thinking, “If a heavyweight like Carlson is vulnerable, where does that put me?”
Second, if the Variety story is accurate, they would continue to be the face of a network that caved on a free speech issue.
Did Dominion suffer damages, or was it interested in crushing conservative media? If I’m an on-air personality at Fox News, do I want to be a part of a news operation that rolled over?
Third, if the viewers are bailing, why shouldn’t Fox commentators? True, they’ve got contracts to honor, and non-compete clauses may keep them off the air for a while, but moves like that are made all the time.
It might be that Carlson’s firing demonstrates the age of cable news has ended.
Fox News retained a loyal audience based on the effective marketing concept of differentiation. But without that identity, it’s over.
True, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Greg Gutfeld and Harris Faulkner will continue to stake out their conservative positions on the network.
But their audience is probably smarter than Fox executives give them credit for, and unless a specific personality is a draw to specific audience members, more conservative viewers will be slipping away from the network.
And at least some of the hosts will probably go with them.
So far, no names of possible Fox News departures have been made public. Variety reported a “handful” of them or their representatives had contacted Carlson about making a move.
Tucker Carlson has hired Hollywood attorney Bryan Freedman for his contract dispute with Fox. Freedman got NBC News to pay Megyn Kelly $69 million after she was fired in 2019. https://t.co/sOAhJeUoN6
— Variety (@Variety) May 16, 2023
For his part, Carlson has secured the services of Hollywood media lawyer Bryan Freedman to untangle him from Fox News, which continues to pay him $20 million per year with an expectation he stay quiet until January 2025, which happens to be after the 2024 election.
Freedman is arguing that by yanking Carlson off the air, Fox is in breach of contract and thus Carlson is free to immediately go back on-air.
His new show is expected to appear on Twitter any day now, according to Variety.
And who knows who might be joining him before long.
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