Details: Within minutes of each other, announcements confirmed both anchors were parting ways with the rival networks. Reports indicate neither host expected the separation, but some voices speculated recent controversies garnered Carlson and Lemon, and their networks, bad press.
"I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. I am stunned," Lemon said in a tweet. "After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly." CNN refuted this claim, with the network's PR Twitter account stating, "He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter."
On Wednesday, Carlson posted a two-minute video on Twitter indirectly reflecting on the firing, stating, "the majority of the population, even now," are "genuinely nice people... kind and decent people." He also criticized how "unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are," adding, "trust me, as someone who's participated. The undeniably big topics, the ones that will define our future, get virtually no discussion at all."
Controversies: Lemon was recently placed on a leave of absence after making a comment about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley being "past her prime." Additionally, earlier this month, a Variety (Center Bias) report detailed Lemon's alleged "troubling treatment of women and unprofessional antics" during his tenure at CNN.
Carlson's removal comes after Fox Corp. settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems, in which Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion over coverage of election fraud theories about the 2020 election. Court-filings from the case included text messages from Carlson in which he disparaged Fox executives, which some reports indicated contributed to the network's decision to part ways with the host. A report from Vanity Fair (Lean Left Bias) speculated Carlson may have been ousted over a viral speech he gave two days prior that had spiritual overtones, in which he said American politics had become a battle between good and evil.
How The Media Covered It: Carlson's firing was covered more frequently and led to reflection and speculation across the spectrum, resulting in a clear divide in coverage across biases. Carlson and Lemon's firings fueled speculation as to what the surprise decisions indicate about the direction of cable news and independent media.
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Snippets from the Left
I Worked at CNN and Reported on Tucker Carlson. He Was Never Invincible.
The New York Times (opinion)
"Fox News, despite having a newsroom with reporters and editors, is primarily a conservative entertainment operation and a Republican Party organ. The news doesn’t come first or even second at Fox, and the reporters there know it."
"Finding a Carlson substitute will be as easy for Fox as it was finding an O’Reilly substitute. There’s always an understudy or two at Fox who has learned the art of demagoguery — how to pander to the stolen election liars, incite white nationalists and make long-distance love to Vladimir Putin."
Snippets from the Center
Cable News Has Less Room for Primetime Provocateurs Like Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon
"At a time when big live audiences are harder to generate — more people are gravitating toward bespoke streaming binge sessions — media companies that own news outlets, their main source of live programming, can’t afford to alienate anyone."
"Fox’s $787 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems and other legal fights is creating what is likely to be a sliding-doors moment for the network as it tries to put the aftermath of the 2020 election in the rearview mirror."
Snippets from the Right
"While everyone else was making a splash by selling similar-looking books about Donald Trump as the main character of our politics, Carlson took the exact opposite view. He maintained on his show, night after night, that America’s 'Ship of Fools,' its ruling class, was still the most important player."
"Ratings no longer rule. Instead, lawyers can litigate a host out of a job and activists can threaten advertisers to such a degree that the only commercials that remain hawk pillows, silver, reverse mortgages, and vitamins. Tucker Carlson lost his job not because viewers tired of him but because of targeted activism involving courts and corporations."