For those of us who toil in the media verse, nothing grabs our attention quicker than when powerful political appointees and grossly over-paid cable news hosts and anchors get canned or depart their lucrative positions.
Yesterday was genuinely a day of days–a Monday morning media massacre!
First came the news that Don Lemon, the supercilious CNN personality who identifies as a journalist, was canned by CNN after one too many insufferable on-air episodes in which he insulted co-hosts and viewers such as Nikki Haley, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Next came the news that conservative TV host Tucker Carlson and Fox News “agreed to part ways” in what appears to be a mutual arrangement. “We thank him for his service to the network,” Fox said in a statement about the top-rated Carlson.
As I write this post, neither Carlson nor Fox has given a reason for the popular host’s departure.
Just four days before those two blockbuster announcements, Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and New York City cop turned conservative talk show host, announced he was leaving Fox News after Bongino and the network failed to agree on a contract extension. Bongino was the host of the Saturday night show Unfiltered with Dan Bongino.
“Folks, regretfully, last week was my last show on the Fox News Channel,” Bongino said on his podcast. “It’s tough. It’s tough to say that. You know, I’ve been there doing hits and working there for ten years…so the show ending was tough. And I want you to know it’s not some big conspiracy. I promise you. There’s no acrimony. This wasn’t some WWE brawl that happened. We just couldn’t come to terms on an extension.”
And finally, Monday saw the departure of Joe Biden’s Domestic Policy Adviser, Susan Rice. Rice’s departure from the White House raised eyebrows because it followed a New York Times story that alleged her team ignored warning signs about the rise of migrant child labor in the United States.
Ignoring the Times story, Joe Biden instead praised Rice for her work on various issues, including immigration and healthcare. He noted that Rice’s appointment surprised many political observers because, in the Obama administration, her focus was on foreign policy.
So there you have it. Quite a Monday morning massacre.
What does it all mean? Probably nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Liberals will no doubt lament the exit of Lemon, along with his scathing criticisms of Donald Trump, Republicans, and anybody he decided was an irredeemable conservative.
But Lemon did not go quietly into the night. Instead, he ranted on Twitter.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” Lemon wrote in a Twitter post. “I am stunned. After 17 years at CNN, I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network.”
CNN responded to Lemon’s statement, calling it inaccurate. “Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate,” the network said. “He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
Such rancor shouldn’t surprise anybody who has ever watched Lemon. His on-air bombasts and blusters were often laced with inaccuracies and slanderous tropes directed at people he disapproved of.
Take this exchange with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. During an interview with Lemon, Ramaswamy declared that President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” reforms in the 1960s did more harm than good to Black Americans. The interview quickly nose-dived into a rancorous debate about the Civil War and ended with the two men stating that they are each proud of their racial origin.
“I think you’re doing a disservice to our country by failing to recognize the fact that [Black Americans] have equality under the law,” Ramaswamy, an Indian-American, told Lemon.
Lemon quipped that he was insulted by Ramaswamy’s words. “And you’re sitting here, whatever ethnicity you are, explaining to me what it’s like to be black in America. When you are in black skin, and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me.”
“I think we should be able to express our views regardless of the color of our skin,” Ramaswamy replied. “We should have this debate without me regarding you as a black man but me regarding you as a fellow citizen.”
I suspect Lemon’s producers were pulling their hair out and burning up his earpiece with yelps to “Stop! Don, stop!”
Lemon’s behavior during this so-called “interview” reminds me of what an old Chicago Tribune editor told me years ago about interviewing.
“Reporters should shut up and let their subjects talk,” he said. “When you’re doing the talking, you aren’t learning anything except how to flap your mouth.”
Oh well, I am sure such advice is lost on the haughty and impertinent Lemon.
Now, let’s get back to Fox.
Conservatives will no doubt grieve the departure of Tucker Carlson, who was Fox’s top-rated host. His show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, pulled in more than three million viewers on an average night.
No doubt, Carlson was a controversial host. He not only angered liberals but also many conservatives because he questioned U.S. support for Ukraine while not being critical enough of Russia.
As of the writing of this post, the parting of ways between Fox and Carlson remains a mystery. However, in the spiteful and whacky media verse, rumors abound.
For example, one rumor loudly whispered Monday was that Rupert Murdoch himself ordered that Carlson be canned. According to corporate tittle-tattle Murdoch, chairman of Fox Corp.’s corporate parent, decided he could no longer support the popular conservative pundit.
Another rumor (I’m just full of ‘em today) concerned a lawsuit by former Fox senior producer Abby Grossberg. Her lawsuit charges that she suffered sexual and religious discrimination by Carlson and other staffers working on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Tsk, tsk, tsk.
It looks to me as if Fox News is cleaning house of some of its most conservative talent. There is little doubt that the network has been edging more and more toward the middle of the political spectrum recently—especially after the 2020 election.
We must not forget that it was just a few days ago that corporate parent Fox Corporation agreed to pay $787.5 million in a settlement to Dominion Voting Systems after being accused of defaming the ballot technology company by reporting conspiracy theories about its role in the 2020 presidential election.
Apparently, Rupert and his sons, James and Lachlan, are willing to jettison conservative principles and values in favor of protecting the bottom line. Shelling out almost one billion bucks is a steep price to pay for the political perspectives of its outspoken conservative hosts and anchors.
Nevertheless, Fox Corporation—Fox News’ parent company—saw its share price fall about 4% in the wake of Carlson’s exit.
While Don Lemon’s firing will hardly cause a ripple at the nation’s very first cable news network, that is not likely to be the case at Fox News with the exit of two of its most conservative hosts.
I envisage a significant exodus of loyal Fox News viewers because of the departures of Carlson and Bongino.
Where will they go? There is no cable news outlet that has the broad reach that Fox News has. Newsmax, which is substantially smaller and less impactful than Fox, might be one place the two displaced conservative commentators could land.
However, if I were a news executive at NBC, CBS, or ABC, I might be tempted to add Tucker Carlson to my lineup of on-air political pundits.
Currently, none of the networks has anybody in their stables, even remotely as conservative as Carlson. And given the fact that almost 75 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2020, it might make sense to appeal to a segment of the country that feels justly marginalized by the networks.
After all, as Rupert Murdoch has just demonstrated, in today’s untrustworthy and corrupt world of journalism, isn’t it all about the bottom line?
But don’t hold your breath, folks.
Here’s what I predict.
The networks or maybe MSNBC will offer Don Lemon a job. Hell, they might even offer Susan Rice a place to roost.
Sorry, Tucker and Dan.
So much for being fair and balanced.
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1 thought on “What a Day! Media & Political Shakeups All Over the Place!”
Pretty much Ron! FOX is going the way of MSNBC……and that cannot be good for our Nation. Newsmax is just one button touch on our remote and it gets hit every time FOX goes left. The best is One America News but that is impossible to find on cable these troubled days!