Richard Connor: Tears and jeers collide as Carlson, Lemon get the ax

Tucker Carlson (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Seldom have so many tears turned to jeers.

There’s probably never been a day when liberals and conservatives claimed victory and then defeat in virtually the same breath.

Liberals cheered at the bulletin that Fox News television host Tucker Carlson had fallen, been fired, and without even knowing it had broadcast his last show on April 21. There were high-fives everywhere – except with hard-core conservatives and MAGA fans, of course. They wailed.

Victory was short-lived, as was gloomy sadness.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

CNN was just a step behind Fox announcing that another high-profile television host, Don Lemon, was out of a job. The liberals put hands to head and sunk low. Happiness denied. Conservatives exclaimed, “There is a God” and began line dancing through the streets.

Actually, it is difficult to determine winners and losers in this drama of firings of two controversial and bombastic TV news personalities.

The winner could be television journalism.

That would be the case – unlikely, but we can hope – if both Fox and CNN find replacements who leave blatant partisanship behind and who do not become bigger – or think they are bigger – than the stories they report.

- Advertisement -

We did not lose two journalists, two reporters, in these April 24 firings. We lost two entertainers. Both were pompous egomaniacs. A reporter who becomes more significant than the story is cooked, well done.

Staffers at both networks cheered the departures.

Many will say the networks have shot themselves in the foot, or maybe in the head. Not true. Think back to when Bill O’Reilly was the big draw at Fox. He was dumped, Carlson took over the time slot and the network never missed a beat as the new star soared with huge audience ratings.

What’s the point here? The audiences at Fox and CNN, and MSNBC for that matter, are drawn to the networks because of political ideology. They will cheer for whomever takes over the seat on their broadcasts. Unfortunately, these viewers do not seek alternative opinions and the executives at the networks know it. The “stars” are disposable commodities that can be devalued and replaced. The audience stays hooked.

- Advertisement -

Carlson and others at Fox cost the company a $787.5 million settlement in voting machine manufacturer Dominion’s lawsuit over the network’s coverage of false claims that the company rigged its machines to help Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Emails and text messages that surfaced during the legal proceedings exposed Carlson as a liar and a hypocrite, privately admitting he didn’t believe the fixed-election charges even as he advanced them on the air. He would have been a rabbit being crushed in the talons of a hawk if the Dominion lawsuit against Fox had gone to trial and he ended up on the witness stand.

Lemon, meanwhile, spent the last two months or so digging his own grave after commenting on the air that 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley “isn’t in her prime.” Needless to say, women did not take that kindly. He fell all over himself apologizing but failed to heed the sound advice administered to losers everywhere: “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Others at CNN came out to say he was an insulting disaster with colleagues in the workplace.

Fans may mourn the departures of these falling stars but need not fret for their futures. Carlson is paid $20 million a year until his contract expires. He negotiated a new deal in 2021 and was negotiating another through 2029. Lemon was making $4 million a year. They will walk away from their former employers with their pride and reputations wounded but their wallets intact.

Still, they leave us with echoes of that familiar and timeless paraphrase of biblical wisdom: “Pride goeth before the fall.”

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at