It sounds like the plotline of a classic 1980s drama movie: 2 members of the entertainment industry from opposing production corporations are fired and become allies to seek retribution for their own woes. This story has repeated itself once again with one minor exception: it’s occurring in real life.
Earlier last week, Tucker Carlson, host of the conservative nightly political talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News, and Don Lemon, presenter of the liberal news commentary program Don Lemon Tonight aired on CNN and co-host of CNN This Morning, were both fired for comments made previously on their respective shows.
At first glance, Carlson, 53, and Lemon, 57, don’t seem to have much in common given that the former is often referred to as “one of the most racist, toxic, and hateful commentators on cable TV,” while Lemon, “though irritating and sexist,” is not. In fact, they have openly called each other out in a negative light on air with Carlson deliberately mispronouncing Lemon’s name and Lemon calling Carlson’s claim about white supremacy being a “hoax” one of the “dumbest things” he’s ever heard.
However, within the span of the past few months, both of the notable and prominent figures of the entertainment and journalism industry (for better or for worse) made statements about certain aspects of current American democracy that were deemed controversial by a bipartisan audience.
Since the 2020 presidential election in which Republican candidate and former US President Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden, Tucker Carlson has consistently spouted lies to propose reasoning to why that election was a hoax. During this process of supporting the political party that Fox News regularly aligns itself with, Carlson often made statements that are offensive and have even defamed certain corporations, namely Dominion Voting Systems, one of the most popular companies in the US that produce electronic voting hardware and software such as voting machines and tabulators. As The Guardian reports, “Carlson was suddenly fired by Fox News last week, in the aftermath of the network’s $787.5m settlement of a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems over its broadcast of Donald Trump’s electoral fraud lies.” Although the reason for his firing on April 21 has not been officially released by Fox Corporation, Carlson’s comments, as well as “highly offensive” messages redacted in filings in the Dominion case, are the front-running speculations.
Although Don Lemon did not cost his former broadcasting company millions of dollars due to a settlement in a defamation lawsuit, he was fired on April 24 due to, as the BBC reports, “accusations of misogyny and misbehaviour.” Multiple current and former employees of CNN have also shared instances where the they claimed that Lemon had been inappropriate towards his female coworkers. Just 2 months ago, he said that the 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was not “in her prime.” According to him, a woman was considered in her prime “in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”
When both broadcasting organizations, CNN and Fox News, originally claimed that their respective reporters’ departures were in a peaceful manner, Carlson and Lemon later released statements on Twitter claiming that their agents were the first to inform them of the matter and were not given the opportunity to meet with their managers or executives. Apart from taking to social media to describe their own stories, however, the two journalists have found much in common given recent circumstances. Not only have they reportedly become “texting buds” and hired the same famous Hollywood lawyer, Bryan Freedman, to “navigate their exits” and represent them for court settlements, the speculated reasons behind their dismissals are a clear sign for the future of the entertainment industry, and specifically for those in journalism.
While their rights and liberties to report the news are protected under the Constitutional First Amendment’s freedom of press, it is doubled as an obligation to do so responsibly, without providing biased opinions when their viewers are seeking unbiased information. Despite their vast knowledge and scholarliness, it is essential that they continue to report the news directly and as it is to the American public to ensure and understand that their is a fine line between the truth and an opinionated version of what is right, depending on the individual. Carlson and Lemon both crossed this line and, as we saw from their removals, were retribution for their actions.
As many experts point out, these events serve as a signal to the future of the entertainment industry, plainly displaying what will happen to journalists who misuse their bully pulpit to spout their own opinions during segments reserved for the truth, and the truth only. In layman’s terms, Carlson and Lemon’s dismissals from their respective broadcasting corporations have shown the world the responsibilities of a reporter in the modern America.
Hello! My name is Krishna Mano and I am a sophomore at City High School. This is my fourth year writing for The City Voice and second year as an editor. Apart from the newspaper, I am part of the Speech and Debate team, President of the 10th Grade Student Council, and Treasurer of the NHS. Outside of school, I enjoy playing the violin, reading, skiing, and paddleboarding. If you have any questions about my articles, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.