As Carlson and Lemon Exit, a Chapter Closes on Cable’s Trump War

They were on very different networks and did very different things to get very different ratings.

But Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon’s en masse exit from the cable news world on Monday marked the end of an era for their industry. It was the most militant and partisan industry since Ted Turner introduced the concept of 24-hour news to television more than 40 years ago.

Equivalence cannot be drawn between two hosts. Carlson was often the ratings leader on Fox News, running wild with white supremacists and false conspiracy theories.Mr. Lemon is his anti trump A tame broadside in comparison – and garnered much lower ratings – but could be hot enough by CNN’s standards.

But in recent incarnations, Mr. Carlson and Mr. Lemon were both products of the Trump era. A combatant of the set-top box, he often made headlines by providing his audience with generous support for indignation and anger.

Now, in many ways, their ousting represents at least a step back from Trump’s election, presidency, and post-presidential glut of media coverage.

“There was a race on many mainstream channels to denounce Trump first to celebrate his problems,” said Stephen F. Hayes, founder of conservative site The Dispatch. rice field. “And at Fox, especially in primetime, there has been this over-the-top effort to defend him and amplify his lies.”

Hayes, who quit his job as a Fox analyst over Carlson’s dissemination of conspiracy theories about the January 6th Capitol shootings, said optimistically:

The details of both exits remained questionable, and both situations involved factors other than the general editorial approach.

Mr. Carlson has become an embarrassing figure through the wealth of material produced in the defamation lawsuit filed against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems.

Emails and text messages crafted before the trial mocked Trump even while Carlson welcomed him on the show, accusing lawyers of pushing an election conspiracy against Dominion voting machine Sydney Powell. It indicated the use of vulgar and misogynistic language about being. In another lawsuit pending in Delaware, Abby Grossberg, the former head of bookings for Mr. Carlson’s shows, accused Mr. Carlson and his staff of similarly vulgar language about women. The behavior, which Grossberg claims created a toxic work environment, appears to have contributed to his expulsion more than anything else.

Lemon’s dismissal came after she made sexist and ageist remarks on CNN’s morning show that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was not “in her prime.” She’s in her 20’s and 30’s and maybe 40’s. This statement was very offensive on all counts. But from a television standpoint, it also strayed into grave sin territory, threatening to alienate important viewership demographics. Lemon apologized, but the network ultimately concluded that his future was no longer acceptable.

But neither situation can be seen outside of where the man stands at the cable news earth shift plate.

Lemon has been operating in CNN’s new environment, where new network president Chris Licht said he wants to shave off the more partisan edge that emerged during the Trump era. As Licht told advertisers last June, “We are trying to go our separate ways when extremes rule cable news.” Putting CNN in the middle is also a priority for David Zaslav, CEO of CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. “The ratings are terrible,” he said.

This shift was in no small part why Licht moved Lemmon from last year’s 10pm show to co-host a new CNN breakfast show. “CNN This Morning” was positioned as lighter, more conversational, and less edgy than the show Lemon left.

Still, it didn’t take long. “Don Lemon is a lightning rod, because he really became famous in a time when it was celebrated and encouraged during primetime,” Licht said. semaphore Early this month. “CNN moved on from it, Don moved on from it.” Well, CNN moved on from Don.

The signal is a little less clear from Fox News. The network and its leaders Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch were widely accused of broadcasting a false and racist conspiracy by Mr. Carlson, earning such fame from many Trump followers.

They seemed to be doing so for basic reasons – the great ratings and considerable income he earned for doing so. Even then, Mr. Carlson doubled down on running a report that falsely portrayed the January 6 attacks as an almost peaceful event. It sent a signal that everything had been beaten at Fox.

Following last week’s settlement with Dominion, Fox said that its experience with the case has forced Dominion to scrutinize Fox News by airing the kind of unbridled, false conspiracy content that gave Dominion a strong courtroom clout. faced the unanswered question of whether it got hot enough to withdraw.

An abrupt end to Mr. Carlson’s candidacy at Fox News may not signal a broader pullback offshore. But his dismissal from Fox’s prime time is a setback in itself, and it’s a pretty big one.

Then again, over the past 40 years, cable news has been in a constant quest for ratings and relevance, inexorably moving toward ever more jarring shows and personalities. Carlson and Lemon’s departure may be the end of his one era in cable news. But if Fox and he CNN can’t resist siren calls for Trump’s high-profile tricks, who can say what the next trick will really look like?

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