Never Trump Contributors Quit Fox News in a Huff to Protest Tucker Carlson

Photo via Gage Skidmore

Tucker Carlson’s new January 6th special is proving rather upsetting to some. As RedState has reported, numerous questions remain regarding the government’s involvement that day, and even if you believe those who entered the Capitol Building are the epitome of evil, two wrongs do not make a right.

In response to the release of the special, Never Trump apparatchiks Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes have officially resigned as contributors at Fox News. That news came today, via The New York Times.

The trailer for Tucker Carlson’s special about the Jan. 6 mob at the Capitol landed online on Oct. 27, and that night Jonah Goldberg sent a text to his business partner, Stephen Hayes: “I’m tempted just to quit Fox over this.”

“I’m game,” Mr. Hayes replied. “Totally outrageous. It will lead to violence. Not sure how we can stay.”

The full special, “Patriot Purge,” appeared on Fox’s online subscription streaming service days later. And last week, the two men, both paid Fox News contributors, finalized their resignations from the network.

Let me start by noting that the fact that they went to the Times to air their grievances says more than enough on its own. And once you actually get into the article, it reads like another publicity grab by the two neoconservatives, both of which have seen their appearances on Fox News severely curtailed over the last several years. In fact, it’s hard to believe they were still being paid to be contributors, which leads to me wonder if they were holding contracts that weren’t going to be renewed anyway. Better to go out in a huff on your own terms, flexing for your leftwing subscribers, than to wait around to get put out on the street, right?

At one point, the Times mentions that The Dispatch, the outlet currently run by Goldberg and Hayes, has 30,000 subscribers. That’s the kind of data the paper wouldn’t have unless it was given to them, which again makes the entire article feel like a publicity stunt.

Yet, the thing that strikes me the most about the piece is that while it makes Carlson’s special sound incredibly sinister, there are precious few examples given, either by the Times or its subjects, to illustrate what’s so awful about it. The only real mention is a claim that the special promotes the idea that the government is unfairly targeting Americans as domestic terrorists. That’s hardly a controversial take given recent events, but there’s clearly a hive mentality that seeks to declare any questioning of anything having to do with January 6th as out of bounds. I don’t buy that assertion, spoken or insinuated, nor does Tucker Carlson, obviously.

Regardless, the news business is, in fact, a business, and Fox News viewers have spoken. Carlson remains the top-rated show in cable news while Goldberg and Hayes were only making rare appearances on Fox News Sunday and Special Report to bleat about Trumpism, while continually giving Democrats a pass. That kind of thing may still make Paul Ryan feel warm and fuzzy, but few others have an appetite for it.

Still, I just don’t buy that this is an incredibly principled play. Goldberg and Hayes are about making money and always have been. They realized they were being left behind during the Trump years as the party largely turned away from the failures of George W. Bush-ism. When American troops and civilians alike were being blown up in ill-advised, badly executed wars, they shared no moral qualms. Forgive me if I find their more recent quest to supposedly restore morality and decency rather unconvincing. This latest move is just another in a long line of shifts in order to keep the cash coming in.