Depolarization of News: Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon


Olivia Rosato, Reporter

Tucker Carlson, the longtime leading Fox News host, parted ways with the conservative news outlet in late April. Amid competing rumors of firing and resignation, the decision came as a surprise to many Americans. Carlson hosted the prime time news casting slot and shared a highly conservative agenda, frequently agreeing with former president Donald Trump and borrowing political theories from far-right extremists. Carlson, aside from supporting former president Trump, also shared an “us versus them” ideology, expressing that the liberal agenda was trying to destroy America. According to the BBC, Carlson claimed to his viewers that immigrants, political correctness, the Black Lives Matter movement, Democrats, and the LGBTQ+ community were among those on a warpath to push conservatives aside and ruin the US. He was reported to make several misogynistic and racist remarks across his career. Despite his controversial and no-holds-barred approach to newscasting, Carlson attracted a massive audience. The host reportedly received more than three million viewers per broadcast, according to the BBC, and he generated upwards of $75 million in 2022 alone. Therefore, Carlson’s sudden departure from Fox News left many people shocked. 


Just days after Carlson’s ousting, CNN announced that one of their own principal news anchors, Don Lemon, would be leaving the news outlet after 17 years. While Lemon reported that he was unexpectedly fired, CNN holds that he had the opportunity to discuss the terms of his position before his firing. Unlike Carlson, Lemon held a generally liberal perspective, though identified as an independent, and regularly disdained former president Trump. Signs of Lemon’s support within CNN diminishing appeared early in 2023, after he made remarks about women’s aging that many interpreted to be sexist. According to the New York Times, Lemon’s declining popularity in the aftermath of such behavior may have played a role in his recent departure from the news outlet.  


The ousting of Carlson and Lemon, newscasters as popular as they are controversial, drew much attention to the polarization of mass media. Both departures surprised many Americans, because they were extremely popular, and—particularly in Carlson’s case—very financially valuable. The ousting of these personalities may indicate an attempt by news outlets to move away from the opposite extremes of the political spectrum and towards a slightly less biased and more factual representation of global affairs. It may also show increased concern with the behavior of news hosts, considering the allegations of sexism from both Carlson and Lemon, and of racism from Carlson. Regardless, the sidelining of newscasters aligned with politically extreme ideologies could suggest a move of mass media away from such polarizing agendas.