Did AOC cause Tucker Carlson to be fired by Fox News?: While different reporting had cited about ten various reasons why Fox suddenly dropped its most popular host earlier this week, one conspiracy theory claims that comments a few days before by AOC were the real reason.
AOC vs. Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson was suddenly dropped by Fox News on Monday, and in the days since, various reports from different news outlets have tried to explain why, since Fox itself was vague about the reasoning behind the shocking decisions.
Reports have attributed the sudden firing to a few key factors: Embarrassment over the nearly $800 million settlement with Dominion Voting System and the text messages Carlson sent that were uncovered; discomfort with recent segments on his show that have flirted with both white nationalism and outright lying; the separate lawsuit by a former staffer; Carlson’s reported use of sexist language, including directing the c-word at both a top Fox executive and former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, and even one report that Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch believed Carlson was a “messenger from God.”
Some prominent voices on the right are claiming something else: That it was the fault of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Or, as we know her as AOC.
In an interview on MSNBC that aired over the weekend, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez accused Carlson of “incitement of violence,” ahead of January 6, and stated that “we have very real issues with what is permissible on air.”
She then said that “I believe that when it comes to broadcast television, like Fox News, these are subject to federal law, federal regulation in terms of what’s allowed on air and what isn’t” and “when you look at what Tucker Carlson and some of these other folks on Fox do, it is very, very clearly incitement of violence — very clearly incitement of violence. And that is the line that we have to be willing to contend with.”
AOC may have a point about incitement, but she is wrong that Fox News is on “broadcast television,” as it is, in fact, a cable channel and therefore not subject to federal regulation.
The First Amendment would appear to prevent any action by the government from punishing or suppressing the views of a cable news host; for all his sniping at CNN during his presidency, even Donald Trump appeared to realize that he didn’t have the power to get individual hosts taken off the air.
AOC Did It?
But at any rate, the AOC interview aired on Sunday, and Carlson was fired on Monday. Is there a connection? Some voices on the right appear to believe so.
“AOC was on TV over the weekend demanding that Tucker be banned. That just shows how crucial he is,” Charlie Kirk tweeted after the firing.
“AOC wanted Tucker off air. Fox News granted her wish,” Tom Bevan, the cofounder of Real Clear Politics, tweeted the same day.
It would not appear that what AOC said and what Fox did had any connection.
For one thing, no reporting has emerged connecting the two. The New York Times, for instance, reported that the decision to let Carlson go was made on Friday night, before the AOC interview aired.
And for another, the management of Fox News has shown no tendency in the past to take action just because one of the most left-wing members of Congress asks them to, much less in an interview on rival MSNBC. Not even the Democratic leadership in Congress tends to follow AOC’s lead, much less the management of Fox News.
“Why exactly Fox would acquiesce to Ocasio-Cortez is unclear, given the network has spent the past five years freely and gleefully attacking her,” The New Republic wrote earlier this week. “In one six-week period in 2019, in her early days in the House, Fox mentioned Ocasio-Cortez 3,181 times, or nearly 76 times a day. The ever-present focus on the New York Democrat has certainly not relented since.”
AOC, for her part, began fundraising off of Carlson’s exit earlier this week.
Tucker Carlson Is Back…On Twitter
As for Carlson, he resurfaced Wednesday night, with a video he posted to Twitter. The video didn’t reveal much about the former host’s future plans, but he did talk about how “unbelievably stupid” most debates on television are.
“Both political parties and their donors have reached consensus on what benefits them and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it,” Carlson said in the video. “Suddenly the United States looks very much like a one-party state. That’s a depressing realization, but its not permanent.”
The video appeared to have been shot in the studio that Carlson used for his “Tucker Carlson Today” show, which would seem to answer questions that have been raised about whether Carlson retains ownership of the studios he used near his homes in Florida and Maine, or if Fox owns them.
Access to such a studio could impact Carlson’s plans for future shows.
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Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.