By Claire Atkin
You are allowed to celebrate for one (1) day. Maybe two. Maybe a week. You can savor the knowledge that Carlson signed off on his show on Friday, completely unaware that the last words he would utter on Fox News were, “We’ll see you Monday.” You may bathe in the fact that Fox chose to unceremoniously dump him on a Monday morning as journalists across the East Coast reached peak caffeine absorption. We know that whatever happened, it was unexpected and brutal.
But after celebrating, we need to go back to work. Tucker Carlson is no slouch — and he is already dusting himself off and calculating his next move. Whatever he does next will have enormous implications for our country.
Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was born rich, ambitious, and entitled. He has already made the most of it. Tucker parlayed his private school education into a career in media, working his way up from his first job as a fact-checker for Policy Review, a Heritage Foundation publication, to his most recent job as host of Fox News’ most successful primetime show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Carlson has known disappointment, like when his CNN show Crossfire was canceled in 2004 after Jon Stewart famously declared it was “hurting America.” But he also knows a stepping stone when he sees one, like when he and his former college roommate Neil Patel founded The Daily Caller together in 2010.
But after years of running The Daily Caller, Carlson had a new priority: his primetime show on Fox News, which gave him more exposure, influence, and power than he ever had.
“I’m just too absorbed in what I’m doing,” Carlson told the Wall Street Journal when he sold his stake in July 2020. “I wasn’t helping in any way, because I’ve got an hour to do every night” on Fox News.
Over time, Carlson’s nightly monologue became news fodder, allowing him to effectively control and amplify whatever discourse he was in the mood to bolster into the mainstream: immigrants making our country “poorer and dirtier.” White genocide. The injustice of women earning more than men.
Fox executives rewarded Carlson with yet more airtime. Before he was fired last week, Carlson was hosting Tucker Carlson Today and had produced a series of “documentaries,” including Patriot Purge, a film whose central claim is that the FBI planned the January 6th insurrection.
All this time, he was effectively accountable to no one but Fox. And now he’s out. So what’s next for Tucker?
There are a few options for a man of his ambition. He could head to NewsNation, a relatively small news network that slurped up other disgraced news hosts, Bill O’Reilly and Chris Cuomo.
He could enter into talks with Rumble, the free speech alternative to YouTube funded by billionaire reactionary Peter Thiel and J.D. Vance, the Republican Senator from Ohio. Carlson could negotiate a hefty $100M contract to air exclusively on their frankly, very janky website. (Joe Rogan previously declined this offer.)
But Tucker Carlson would probably rather choke than end up on the same platform as the unkempt loser Russell Brand. No, Tucker is more ambitious than that.
Tucker might run for President.