They’re on very different networks, doing very different things to get very different ratings.
But on Monday, Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon quit cable news at the same time, marking the end of an era for their industry — the most combative and partisan since Ted Turner introduced the concept of 24-hour news to television more than 40 years ago era of tendency.
An equivalence relationship cannot be drawn between two hosts. Mr. Carlson has put himself in a class of his own by regularly leading the ratings on Fox News with a run of white nationalism and false conspiracy stories.Mr Lemon for anti trump In comparison, the lackluster episodes — which have far lower ratings — could turn out to be pretty damn hot by CNN standards.
But in their most recent incarnations, Mr. Carlson and Mr. Lemmon are both products of the Trump era — box crusaders who routinely make headlines for their generosity in helping viewers express outrage and outrage.
Now, in a different way, their ouster represents at least a temporary retreat from media over-reporting of Trump’s election, presidency and post-office.
“On many mainstream channels, there is a rush to condemn Trump to celebrate his problems,” said Stephen F. Hayes, founder of The Dispatch, a conservative website. “On Fox, especially in prime time, people went out of their way to defend him and amplify his lies.”
Mr. Hayes, who resigned from his job as a Fox analyst as Mr. Carlson promoted conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, said optimistically, “we hope this marks some sort of broader institutional change.”
Questions remain about the details of the two exits, and in both cases factors beyond general editing methods were involved.
Mr. Carlson has become an embarrassing figure in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation suit against Fox, which was settled last week for $787.5 million.
Emails and text messages generated before the trial show Mr Carlson mocking Mr Trump, even cheering him on his show, and using rude and misogynistic language about a lawyer pushing for a Dominion voting machine about Sidney Powell election conspiracy. In a separate lawsuit pending in Delaware, Abby Grossberg, a former reservations executive for Carlson’s show, accused Mr. Carlson and his staff of using similar vulgar language toward women. That behavior — which Ms. Grossberg claims created a toxic work environment — appeared to be as much a factor in his ouster as anything else.
Mr Lemon was ousted after making sexist and ageist remarks on a CNN morning show in which he said Republican presidential nominee Nikki Haley was not “in her prime” because, as he put it, “women are considered to be at their peak period” in her 20s, 30s, maybe 40s. The statement was deeply offensive by any standard. But on the TV front, it also strayed into big crime territory — it threatened to alienate an important viewership demographic. Despite Mr. Lemon’s apology, the network ultimately It was concluded that his future was unsustainable.
But neither is visible except where these guys are standing on the cable news terra firma moving pan.
Mr. Lemmon works in a new environment at CNN, where the new network’s president, Chris Licht, has made it clear he wants to trim what he sees as the more partisan fringes that have emerged under Trump. As Mr. Licht told advertisers last June, “In an age when extremism dominates cable news, we’re going to look for alternatives.” Centering CNN also happens to be a priority for David Zaslav, CNN parent company Warner Bros. . Discovery’s CEO, even though it means lower ratings and therefore less money. “Ratings be damned,” he said.
It was this shift that Mr. Licht pulled Mr. Lemon from last year’s 10 p.m. show and assigned him to be the co-anchor of CNN’s new breakfast show. “CNN This Morning” was pitched as a lighter, more conversational — and less edgy — show than the one Mr. Lemon was vacated.
However it wasn’t fully taken. “Don Lemon was a lightning rod because he really came to the fore in an era where primetime was celebrated and encouraged,” Mr. Licht said in a statement sponsored by signal earlier this month. “CNN has moved on from that, and Don has moved on from that.” Now, CNN has moved on from Don.
Fox News’ signal was less clear. The network and its leaders, Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch, have supported Mr Carson for years as he was widely condemned for spreading falsehoods and racist conspiracies, which earned him a legion of Trump loyalists author’s reputation.
They seem to be doing it for one basic reason – the high ratings and good money he gets when he does it. Just when the Dominion lawsuit seemed to be moving forward with full force, Mr. Carlson doubled down on his efforts, publishing reports that falsely portrayed the Jan. 6 attack as a largely peaceful event. It sends a signal that even with the threat of a huge lawsuit, Fox’s ratings are above all else.
After reaching a settlement with Dominion last week, Fox faced an open question about whether the experience of the case was enough for Fox News to stop airing the kind of brazen, false conspiracy content that made Dominion so powerful in court.
The abrupt end of Mr. Carlson’s campaign at Fox News may not herald a broader pullback to come — in fact, there are various signs to the contrary. But his removal from primetime at Fox was a step back in itself, and a pretty significant one at that.
Then again, over the past 40 years, cable news has moved relentlessly toward sharper programming and personalization in its relentless pursuit of ratings and relevance. The exits of Mr. Carlson and Mr. Lemon could be the end of an era for cable news. But if Fox and CNN can’t resist the lure of Mr. Trump’s series of eye-catching maneuvers in pursuit of ratings, who’s to say what the next show will really look like?