Washington, United States:
In the world of Tucker Carlson’s hit TV show, America was under assault — by Democrats, by health authorities, by Black Lives Matter protests — and white conservatives were in a fight for their very survival.
Anti-white racism was on the rise. Modern liberals hated Christianity. Migrants were invading. These were just a few of the claims made by the host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” — who left Fox News on Monday after more than a decade as a thorn in the side of the Washington establishment.
In broadcast after broadcast, the 53-year-old would appeal to viewers’ outrage and play on their fears, propelling his show toward the summit of cable TV, making him millions of dollars, while providing ample fodder for conspiracy theorists and racists in the process.
The news of Carlson’s departure came days after Fox News paid a settlement approaching $800 million to end a defamation case over false allegations that ballot-counting company Dominion Voting Systems had helped steal the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump.
Internal communications released ahead of the scheduled trial suggested that Carlson and senior colleagues doubted the claims by Trump aides and the network itself — but aired them anyway for fear of losing viewers to rivals.
Off-screen, Fox News made no secret of the fact that Carlson was what writers of literary fiction call an unreliable narrator.
The network argued in a 2020 lawsuit that viewers knew to apply a healthy dose of skepticism to material on his show, which launched in 2016 and drew millions of viewers per episode.
But critics accused the program of polarizing Americans and contributing to a climate of paranoia that had given rise to politically-motivated violence such as racist mass shootings.
Blue eyes locked on viewers for an hour, five nights a week, Carlson discussed current events on a show billed as “the sworn enemy of lying,” and which promised to “ask the questions that you would ask — and demand answers.”
The Dominion case revealed however that Carlson lacked the candor he claimed for his dispatches, praising Donald Trump in public while telling colleagues in private he couldn’t wait until he could “ignore Trump most nights.”
“I hate him passionately,” Carlson said of the former president in the private messages that came to light during the dispute.
He also faced fierce criticism for downplaying the severity of the 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol by Trump supporters, misrepresenting the riot as a peaceful protest.
His special report cherry-picking footage to whitewash the violent conduct of the rioters was described as “shameful” by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and even criticized by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Carlson framed the issues he discussed as “they” versus “you” — “they want to control your thoughts,” or “they call you a racist.”
He embraced a far right notion that Democratic politicians and other elites were trying to replace whites through immigration, during more than 400 episodes of his show, according to a tally by The New York Times.
Schumer called the theory a “poison that is being spread by one of the largest news organizations in our country.”
Carlson’s departure suggests a changing of the guard at Fox News, which had always backed their star to the hilt despite the criticism he engendered.
Confident in his job security, the father of four had always appeared impervious to criticism, saying in an appearance on “The Rubin Report” talk show: “You should only care about the opinions of people who care about you.”
It is a lesson learned from what he has called his “weird childhood,” marked by the departure of his artist mother when he was only six years old. She moved to France and never saw her children again.
Carlson was raised by his journalist father and followed in his footsteps after trying unsuccessfully to join the CIA.
The road to fame was long — Carlson had been with Fox News since 2009 after stints at MSNBC and CNN — but he found himself cast as a leader of conservative thought in the Trump era.
In evidence of his influence, Republican Ted Cruz willingly subjected himself to a dressing down on the host’s show in 2022 after being widely criticized by conservatives for describing the insurrection as a “violent terrorist attack.”
Despite the political influence he wielded, Carlson — who says he has never owned a television — lives far from the heart of the United States government, in a rural corner of Maine, where he usually recorded his show.
Will politics be the next step? For a time, there were rumors that he could parlay his fame into a 2024 run for the presidency.
Carlson dismissed the idea with a laugh on conservative podcast “Ruthless” last year.
“I’m a talk show host; I enjoy it,” he said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)