Two Fox News Contributors Quit in Protest of Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 Special

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,200
51,884
113
The trailer for Tucker Carlson’s special about the Jan. 6 mob at the Capitol landed online on Oct. 27, and that night Jonah Goldberg sent a text to his business partner, Stephen Hayes: “I’m tempted just to quit Fox over this.”
“I’m game,” Mr. Hayes replied. “Totally outrageous. It will lead to violence. Not sure how we can stay.”
The full special, “Patriot Purge,” appeared on Fox’s online subscription streaming service days later. And last week, the two men, both paid Fox News contributors, finalized their resignations from the network.
In some ways, their departures should not be surprising: It’s simply part of the new right’s mopping up operation in the corners of conservative institutions that still house pockets of resistance to Donald J. Trump’s control of the Republican Party. Mr. Goldberg, a former National Review writer, and Mr. Hayes, a former Weekly Standard writer, were stars of the pre-Trump conservative movement. They clearly staked out their positions in 2019 when they founded The Dispatch, an online publication that they described as “a place that thoughtful readers can come for conservative, fact-based news and commentary.” It now has nearly 30,000 paying subscribers.
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Their departures also mark the end of a lingering hope among some at Fox News — strange as this is for outsiders to understand — that the channel would at some point return to a pre-Trump reality that was also often hyperpartisan, but that kept some distance from Republican officials. Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, recently deplored Trumpism while acting as though — as Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien noted — he didn’t run the company.
The reality of Fox and similar institutions is that many of their leaders feel that the tight bond between Mr. Trump and their audiences or constituents leaves them little choice but to go along, whatever they believe. Fox employees often speak of this in terms of “respecting the audience.” And in a polarized age, the greatest opportunities for ratings, money and attention, as politicians and media outlets left and right have demonstrated, are on the extreme edges of American politics.
Mr. Carlson became the network’s most-watched prime-time host by playing explicitly to that fringe, and “Patriot Purge” — through insinuations and imagery — explored an alternate history of Jan. 6 in which the violence was a “false flag” and the consequence has been the persecution of conservatives.
Mr. Goldberg said that he and Mr. Hayes stayed on at Fox News as long they did because of a sense from conversations at Fox that, after Mr. Trump’s defeat, the network would try to recover some of its independence and, as he put it, “right the ship.”



“Patriot Purge” was “a sign that people have made peace with this direction of things, and there is no plan, at least, that anyone made me aware of for a course correction,” Mr. Goldberg said.


“Now, righting the ship is an academic question,” he continued. “The ‘Patriot Purge’ thing meant: OK, we hit the iceberg now, and I can’t do the rationalizations anymore.”
Mr. Hayes, 51, and Mr. Goldberg, 52, spoke to me over video from their homes in the Washington, D.C., area, both clad in athleisure and sporting graying beards. When they joined Fox News in 2009, they were the leading ideological players in the very different conservative movement of the George W. Bush years. Mr. Hayes had championed the invasion of Iraq at The Weekly Standard, while Mr. Goldberg had just published a book called “Liberal Fascism.”
They now find themselves in a group of Americans who think the threat that Mr. Trump poses to America’s democratic system outweighs many other political differences. Mr. Hayes said that he was particularly concerned about Fox lending support to the idea “that there’s a domestic war on terror and it’s coming for half of the country,” he said. “That’s not true. Particularly disturbing in “Patriot Purge,” he added,was the imagery of waterboarding and suggestions that half the country is going to be subject to this kind of treatment, that’s the same kind of treatment that the federal government used when it went after Al Qaeda.”
Mr. Carlson “pumped that stuff out into society, and all you need is one person out of every 50,000 people who watch it to believe it’s literally the story about what happened, that it’s true in all of its particulars and all of its insinuations. And that’s truly dangerous in a way that the usual hyperbole that you get on a lot of cable news isn’t.”
Mr. Hayes said he’d been particularly disturbed recently when a man at a conference of the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA asked its leader, “When do we get to use the guns?”
“That’s a scary moment,” Mr. Hayes said. “And I think we’d do well to have people who, at the very least, are not putting stuff out that would encourage that kind of thing.”
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For his part, Mr. Goldberg said he has been thinking about William F. Buckley, the late founder of National Review, who saw as part of his mission “imposing seriousness on conservative arguments” and purging some extreme fringe groups, including the John Birch Society, from the right.

“Whether it’s ‘Patriot Purge’ or anti-vax stuff, I don’t want it in my name, and I want to call it out and criticize it,” Mr. Goldberg said. “I don’t want to feel like I am betraying a trust that I had by being a Fox News contributor. And I also don’t want to be accused of not really pulling the punches. And then this was just an untenable tension for me.”
Now, their views have put them outside the current Republican mainstream, or at least outside what mainstream right-wing institutions and politicians are willing to say out loud. But while in recent years both appeared occasionally on the evening show “Special Report” and on “Fox News Sunday,” which the network classifies as news, it’s been years since they were welcome on Fox’s prime time, and Mr. Goldberg clashed bitterly with the prime-time host Sean Hannity in 2016. (Mr. Hayes and Mr. Goldberg emailed their readers Sunday to announce their departure.)
Despite the former contributors’ hopes, Fox’s programming has hewed to Mr. Trump’s line, as have its personnel moves. The network, for instance, fired the veteran political editor who accurately projected Mr. Biden’s victory in the key state of Arizona on election night, and has hired the former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Mr. Hayes and Mr. Goldberg are the first members of Fox’s payroll to resign over “Patriot Purge,” but others have signaled their unhappiness. Geraldo Rivera, a Fox News correspondent since 2001, captured the difficulty of internal dissent at the network when he voiced cautious criticism of Mr. Carlson and “Patriot Purge” to my colleague Michael Grynbaum. “I worry that — and I’m probably going to get in trouble for this — but I’m wondering how much is done to provoke, rather than illuminate,” he said.
On air, two programs with smaller audiences than Mr. Carlson’s scrambled after his special to rebut the false theories presented in “Patriot Purge.” “Special Report” called in a former C.I.A. officer on Oct. 29 to debunk “false flag” theories. And on “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace turned the same question over to one of Mr. Trump’s few foes in the Republican congressional delegation, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
Mr. Carlson called Mr. Hayes’s and Mr. Goldberg’s resignations “great news” in a telephone interview on Sunday. “Our viewers will be grateful.”
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A Fox News spokeswoman, Irena Briganti, declined to comment on the resignations but sent data showing that independents watch Fox.
And yet resignations like Mr. Hayes’s and Mr. Goldberg’s remain rare at Fox. Cable contributor jobs are lucrative — often six figures or more — and open doors to book deals and speaking engagements. Senior journalists and producers at Fox typically receive a salary premium for the opprobrium that comes with working at the company in New York, Washington or Los Angeles. That means there aren’t easy ways to leave without taking a steep pay cut.
“There are lots of people there that I respect and like and consider friends, and they’re making a decision based upon how to provide for their families and deal with their careers and all of that. And I’m not going to second-guess them,” Mr. Goldberg said. “And there are also lots of people over there who think the Fox opinion side today is awesome.

 

z_ape

HR Heisman
Mar 8, 2010
8,848
7,328
113
Has anybody watched this special?

I'm curious how crazy it actually is.

When I saw it I figured it was Fox' attempt to compete with some of the fringe crazy stuff.
 

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,200
51,884
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By Greg Sargent
Columnist
Today at 11:02 a.m. EST


It is fitting that two Fox News contributors have severed their ties with the network over Tucker Carlson’s glorification of Jan. 6 at exactly the moment when more than 150 scholars are sounding a loud, clanging alarm about the future of our democracy.
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Because these two stories are unsettlingly related. Both should rivet our attention on the increasing flirtation among large swaths of the right with political violence, and on the role that the right’s campaign to delegitimize our political system is playing in it.
The two contributors — conservative writers Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg — quit Fox to protest Carlson’s online special “Patriot Purge.” As Ben Smith of the New York Times reports, they objected to its depiction of an alternate history of Jan. 6 as a “false flag” designed to create a pretext to persecute conservatives.


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This is being widely seen as the latest sign that the right’s institutions are purging themselves of the few remaining conservatives who are hostile to Donald Trump and his movement, and what this says about how much the Trump era has transformed the conservative firmament.
What’s more interesting is why this was the final straw for the two Trump critics. Hayes told the Times he was alarmed by Carlson’s propagandistic recasting of federal prosecutions of the rioters as a “domestic war on terror” against the right.
Specifically, Hayes noted that he was disturbed by Carlson’s comparison of Jan. 6 defendants to terrorism suspects tortured by the United States, and his suggestion that “half the country is going to be subject to this kind of treatment.” Hayes said this is “truly dangerous":

Mr. Hayes said he’d been particularly disturbed recently when a man at a conference of the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA asked its leader, “When do we get to use the guns?”
In a follow-up statement, Hayes and Goldberg cited a quote from Carlson’s video — “the left is hunting the right” — and noted that this rhetoric could prompt Americans to act on it. They added: “This is what actually happened on January 6, 2021.”


Some liberals have scoffed that Hayes and Goldberg are unreliable allies who should have recognized Fox’s toxicity long ago and have taken other unforgivable positions over the years. But liberals should want the existence of a center-right that is fundamentally for the baseline of respecting democratic outcomes and institutions, for reasons I’ve outlined elsewhere, even if we disagree with them about everything else.

What’s more, this moment could prove useful, by prompting a renewed focus on the right’s flirtation with political violence, whose manifestations are everywhere. As a good roundup from Steve Benen demonstrates, these include far-right members of Congress openly fantasizing about killing Democrats, and a refusal of GOP leaders to impose accountability for it. News organizations have published searing examinations of the right’s descent into this abyss and GOP complicity with it.

But a true reckoning requires more than just observing this trend. It also requires reflecting on the instrumental nature of propaganda like that coming from Carlson. Much of the discussion treats the possibility of violence as a mere incidental byproduct of that propaganda, depicting it merely as conspiracy-theorizing-for-profit getting out of control. But this isn’t quite right.


Instead, let’s note that this bundle of propagandistic devices — the suggestions that our system is incapable of rendering trustworthy or legitimate outcomes, that the Jan. 6 rioters’ underlying cause was just, that they are persecuted political prisoners, and that this reflects broader scorched-earth warfare the left is waging on conservatives via our institutions — has a purpose.
This isn’t to say the propaganda is a deliberate effort to incite violence. The point is broader: It’s that all this appears designed to lay the justificatory foundation for efforts to resist or subvert legitimate democratic outcomes by any means necessary or available in the future.

That is what creates the risk of sparking more violence. That is what is so dangerous about what we’re seeing now.
Which brings us to a new letter signed by dozens of scholars. They warn that attacks on the “legitimacy of America’s elections” and, importantly, the use of this as justification to lay the groundwork to subvert democratic outcomes later, has grown to a crisis point.


This “represents a clear and present threat to the future of electoral democracy in the United States,” they warn, adding: “The history of other crisis-ridden democracies tells us this threat cannot be wished away. It must be promptly and forthrightly confronted.”
The connection of this truth to the turbulence at Fox also must be confronted.

“We know from the collapse of numerous democracies that when major political parties start tolerating and even endorsing violence, you frequently wind up in a spiral,” political scientist Lee Drutman, who organized the letter, told me.
“Violence is the alternative to politics in democracies,” Drutman continued. “By endorsing violence, parties are effectively saying that democracy doesn’t work. That road leads to authoritarianism.”
“We’ve seen that road traveled into a ditch in numerous democracies,” Drutman said. “We seem to be making that mistake again.”
We should appreciate the decision by Hayes and Goldberg to quit over this. If anything, we need more public displays of alarm about this clear and present danger. It isn’t going away.

 

sober_teacher

HR Legend
Mar 26, 2007
13,922
17,294
113
Has anybody watched this special?

I'm curious how crazy it actually is.

When I saw it I figured it was Fox' attempt to compete with some of the fringe crazy stuff.
What’s almost worse is that Tucker apparently had a documentary crew embedded with the Rittenhouse defense team during the trial.
 
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Reactions: TheCainer

kc78

HR All-American
Nov 25, 2002
2,640
6,868
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44
Pensacola, FL
It's starting to become time that we start rounding up some people for committing treason. There's free speech and then there's this nonsense. I have no problem with disagreeing with sane individuals over levels of taxation, healthcare methodologies, immigration, etc... But when we move into the areas that the right is quickly heading, we're no longer having differences of opinions.
 

lucas80

HR King
Gold Member
Jan 30, 2008
97,230
127,107
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Chris Wallace took a jab at his own network yesterday. Until advertisers pull the plug, or at least scale back their buys, during the prime time shows this is meaningless.
 

FAUlty Gator

HR Legend
Oct 27, 2017
30,513
34,843
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I hate when these loony groups change the meaning of words for their own purposes. Far right ass holes have now taken the OK sign and the word “Patriot” and turned them into shit I want nothing to do with.

Bad enough I can’t wear my Rainbow shirt without getting my ass grabbed on Bourbon Street, I gotta deal with this shit too now!
 

Nat Algren

HR Legend
Nov 23, 2014
19,171
6,141
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How is it possible for you to be so absolutely full of shit and still be breathing? You are, Nat, a true medical marvel.
Firstly, LIAR...you did not hold up to your bargain to leave this board permanently. Welsh.
Secondly, you didn't even try to refute the tweet. Just a lame broadside. You're a true douche.
 

lucas80

HR King
Gold Member
Jan 30, 2008
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Firstly, LIAR...you did not hold up to your bargain to leave this board permanently. Welsh.
Secondly, you didn't even try to refute the tweet. Just a lame broadside. You're a true douche.
It's Welch on a bet, and Your a douche, you stupid f***** Russian.
 
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blhawk

HR Heisman
Oct 30, 2001
5,598
7,905
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Firstly, LIAR...you did not hold up to your bargain to leave this board permanently. Welsh.
Secondly, you didn't even try to refute the tweet. Just a lame broadside. You're a true douche.
Welsh? What does this have to do with the UK? You must have meant welch despite them not even sounding the same. Bright
 

Nat Algren

HR Legend
Nov 23, 2014
19,171
6,141
113
It's Welch on a bet, and Your a douche, you stupid f***** Russian.

[welSH]

VERB
offensive
(welsh on)
  1. fail to honour (a debt or obligation incurred through a promise or agreement).
    "banks began welshing on their agreement not to convert dollar reserves into gold"




    Now let's talk about YOUR improper usage of YOUR. In YOUR case above, you incorrectly chose the "belonging to" or possession option as opposed to the contraction of YOU ARE or YOU'RE. What a smacked ass!
 

lucas80

HR King
Gold Member
Jan 30, 2008
97,230
127,107
113
[welSH]

VERB
offensive
(welsh on)
  1. fail to honour (a debt or obligation incurred through a promise or agreement).
    "banks began welshing on their agreement not to convert dollar reserves into gold"




    Now let's talk about YOUR improper usage of YOUR. In YOUR case above, you incorrectly chose the "belonging to" or possession option as opposed to the contraction of YOU ARE or YOU'RE. What a smacked ass!
Relax, I just wanted to make sure the translation program was working.
You are up early today. Do you guys get off for the holidays?
 

Nat Algren

HR Legend
Nov 23, 2014
19,171
6,141
113
Relax, I just wanted to make sure the translation program was working.
You are up early today. Do you guys get off for the holidays?
No...but we do get off all over YOUR wife...bukkake style, on every day that ends in "Y".

A smarter man (not you) would know to quit tickling a lion's ass with a broken bottle. YOU'RE dumber than a box of rocks.
 

Nat Algren

HR Legend
Nov 23, 2014
19,171
6,141
113
Welsh? What does this have to do with the UK? You must have meant welch despite them not even sounding the same. Bright
You might want to pack your bags.

OIP.nCYdOf3o2PCML7TK-YvpAgHaFO