Tucker Carlson was Fox News' golden child — until he wasn't

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There was no grand send-off for Tucker Carlson at Fox News on Monday, no final show for him to sign off with his viewers.

It’s almost hard to believe that just months ago, Carlson wielded so much power that Kevin McCarthy traded him 40,000 hours of exclusive Jan. 6 footage in his hostage deal to become House speaker.

Yet this week Carlson has officially achieved something that I don’t think anyone else in our industry can claim: being let go by all three major cable news networks — MSNBC (yes, he used to work here), CNN (after Jon Stewart humiliated him live on air), and now Fox.

But Carlson has also achieved something else: He arguably has done more on cable television to spread the gospel of hate, fear and paranoia than anyone since radio propagandist Father Coughlin in the Nazi era of the 1930s. And along the way, he became the Kremlin’s favorite TV show.

He peddled that stuff for years and was rewarded for it by his 3 million nightly viewers and by the executives at Fox. So why would Fox drop its leading primetime host now? That is a question we are still trying to get answers for. Here is what we do know:

Fox is still licking its wounds from its massive $787 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. The judge held, among other things, that Carlson and other hosts aired false claims about the 2020 elections.

There is another big defamation case on the horizon from Smartmatic voting systems that is demanding even bigger damages.

And there is also a lawsuit from former Fox News producer, Abby Grossberg, who worked on Tucker’s show, and claims he presided over a misogynistic, gross and discriminatory workplace culture. 

In a legal filing, she alleges that Carlson created “a work environment that subjugated women based on vile sexist stereotypes, type-casted religious minorities and belittled their traditions, and demonstrated little to no regard for mental health.” So, pretty much what you saw from him on television.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Carlson’s exit is related to that lawsuit.

That is apparently the line that is considered too far for Fox — not the racism, on-air misogyny, anti-immigrant bashing or white replacement conspiracy theory. That was all fine.

But when the toxic culture within Fox is exposed and threatens to cost Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murchoch money, that is when you’ve got to go.

This is an excerpt from Monday’s episode of the “The ReidOut.” It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.

Joy-Ann Reid

Joy-Ann Reid is host of “The ReidOut” at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. “The ReidOut” features one-on-one conversations with politicians and newsmakers while addressing provocative political issues both inside and outside of the beltway.

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