On April 24, Fox News (Right Bias) announced it was parting ways with Tucker Carlson (Right Bias), host of Tucker Carlson Tonight. The news garnered massive coverage across the media spectrum, and reports and characterization of Carlson differed greatly depending on an outlet’s bias.
Notable Words Highlighted by The Left:
- Dominion: Dominion Voting Systems — the company that sued Fox News for defamation. The case settled this month when Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion.
- Grossberg: Abby Grossberg — ex-producer at Fox News who filed a lawsuit against Carlson in March, alleging Carlson created a hostile and sexist work environment.
Notable Words Highlighted by The Right:
- Bongino: Dan Bongino — conservative commentator who announced his departure from Fox earlier this month after failed contract negotiations.
Right Media Describes Tucker as “Ratings Magnet,” Left Media Describes Tucker as “Extremist”
Descriptions of Carlson differed on the left and right predictably along ideological lines. Outlets rated Left and Lean Left by AllSides more frequently attributed subjective qualifying adjectives to Carlson in news coverage, while Right- and Lean-Right rated outlets tended to stick to highlighting Carlson’s influence and ratings.
From the Left
According to the Daily Beast (Left Bias), Carlson is a “far-right star” and a “kingmaker in Republican circles, beyond being the most-watched host in primetime cable news and the face of the Fox News brand.”
From the Center
According to BBC News (Center Bias), Carlson is “not just a popular presenter, but also a historically influential one.” Carlson’s show “frequently set the agenda for conservatives and, by extension, the Republican Party.”
From the Right
According to The Daily Wire (Right Bias), Carlson was Fox’s “biggest prime time star,” who was “almost always at the top of the ratings in prime time, drawing a massive audience that often dwarfed several of his competitors combined.”
Media Speculates About Connection To Dominion Defamation Settlement
Outlets across the spectrum noted that Carlson’s removal from Fox News came after last week’s announcement that Fox News was settling a court case with Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion alleged in its lawsuit that Fox News defamed the company in its 2020 coverage of claims of voter fraud and manipulation in that year's presidential election. As part of the settlement, Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion.
While media outlets highlighted the proximity between the settlement and Carlson’s departure, Left- and Lean Left-rated outlets tended to expand on details revealed in the settlement in order to draw further speculative connections between court-filing revelations and Carlson’s departure. On the other side, Right- and Lean Right-rated outlets typically only mentioned the settlement near the bottom of coverage without going into much detail.
From the Right
Breitbart News (Right Bias) made no mention of the Dominion lawsuit in its coverage, instead choosing simply to highlight the ratings of Carlson’s show, giving no speculation as to why he might have been released from Fox News.
The New York Post (Lean Right Bias) reported in the final paragraphs of coverage, “The announcement comes days after Fox News’ parent company settled Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit for $787.5 million. Dominion’s lawsuit had accused Fox News of airing false election claims and conspiracy theories in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.”
From the Center
From the Left
Axios (Lean Left Bias) reported Carlson was fired, but that Fox’s decision to part with the primetime host was “not part of the settlement agreement,” however, a “slew of material was uncovered during pre-trial discovery that implicated Carlson” that could prove “legally damaging for Fox as it stares down more defamation cases.”
Mother Jones (Left Bias) reported court filings from the Dominion lawsuit revealed “Fox News’ on-air talent had privately questioned Donald Trump’s election conspiracy theories. One included damaging text messages from Carlson in which he admitted to hating the former president ‘passionately.’”
If you were unfamiliar with Carlson prior to the news of his firing, the impression you’d take away about him would be heavily impacted by which outlet you read. Your choice of news outlet determines if you’re told Carlson is a “right-wing extremist” or a “prime time star.”
Written by Isaiah Anthony, Deputy Blog Editor (Center Bias). Research by Clare Ashcraft, Bridging and Bias Assistant (Center Bias). Graphics and analysis by Andrew Weinzierl, Bias Research Manager and Data Journalist (Lean Left Bias).
The piece was reviewed by Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right Bias), Joseph Ratliff, Daily News Editor (Lean Left Bias), and Johnathon Held, Research and Content Intern (Lean Right Bias).