A screengrab from Fox News host Jesse Watters's show with a graphic of a UFO and a chyron that reads, "Could Aliens Have Killed These Cows?"

How Fox News Covered Tucker Carlson’s Abrupt Exit (They Didn’t)

Tucker who?

When news broke that notorious racist and conspiracy monger Tucker Carlson was out at Fox News, the media gleefully got to work speculating about what triggered his apparent firing: Was he the fall boy for the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit over 2020 election lies? Did he go down for criticizing the Fox brass? Was it for creating a hostile work environment filled with sexism and antisemitism, as alleged by his former producer? Or is Fox headed in an entirely new direction, one with less racism and lies?

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Just kidding, it’s definitely not that last one.

But oh, the frenzy that ensued. A dying twitter came alive with the sound of memes and hot takes, members of marginally more multiracial newsrooms laughed uproariously, and Garfield himself looked up from his catnap to observe, “Maybe Mondays aren’t so bad.”

Meanwhile, checking in on Fox News itself, independent journalist Aaron Rupar caught Jesse Watters covering … alien cow murders?

It appears Fox is leaning into their commitment to airing bizarre conspiracy theories even in the wake of the Dominion lawsuit. Here’s some actual local news reporting on the dead cows, if you can stomach it. Notice how easy it is not to speculate wildly about crop circles!

The alien cow murder weirdness was just one moment in time, and you could probably find a similarly silly story running on any day on any station that attempts to cover “news” 24/7. But this one resonated because it seemed to so perfectly encapsulate Fox’s style of reporting on anything that’s inconvenient, embarrassing, or doesn’t fit the narrative they’re selling. If they don’t wanna, they just don’t.

Take Fox News’ blink-and-you-missed-it coverage of their own settlement with Dominion. When Fox agreed to pay $787 billion to Dominion in the voting machine company’s defamation lawsuit, it was a major headline everywhere but Fox. According to the New York Times, the network spent six minutes of airtime on the settlement and published just one story on its website, which included the network’s official statement and dismissively called the lawsuit “media fodder.” Instead, they stuck to favorite fear-mongering bits about Covid’s origins and illegal immigration.

In the case of Carlson’s departure, Fox broke the news early in the day with a 31-second announcement. Newscaster Harris Faulkner said the network and Carlson had “mutually agreed to part ways” and blandly thanked him for his service. The same video is all that appeared on the website.

Admittedly, I did not tune in to verify this, but it appears that no one else mentioned Carlson on air again until Brian Kilmeade anchored Carlson’s usual time slot that evening. Kilmeade, “great friend” though he claims to be, devoted an entire eight seconds to the topic before quickly moving on.

“I wish Tucker the best. I’m great friends with Tucker and always will be,” Kilmeade said in a voice so strained that he was either under direct orders from Fox’s legal department to stay on script or actually never plans to speak to Carlson again.

And that was it, apparently, a grand total of 39 seconds of airtime devoted to the cable channel’s most popular white supremacist.

Don’t get me wrong; I would also be happy to never speak his name again.

(featured image: Fox News)

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Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind (she/her) is a contributing writer covering politics and news and has two decades of experience in local news reporting, freelance writing, and nonfiction editing. Her hobbies and special interests include hiking, dancing in the kitchen, trying to raise empathetic teen boys, and keeping plants alive. Find her on Mastodon at @erikalyn.newsie.social.