Tucker Carlson's Firing Reveals the Limits of Cable News: How Can We Do Better?

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

After Fox News’ decision to fire former host Tucker Carlson, speculation about his future as well as the fate of cable news has almost dominated the national conversation on the media.

With the advent of digital media, television networks have had to find ways to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

Some, like myself, have suggested this might be a harbinger of a new age in news media consumption. But Carlson released a video on Wednesday also intimating that the days of establishment control over the press might be numbered.

Carlson recently posted a video in which he shared his observations about the state of the country and the media environment. He remarked on how many kind and decent people there are in the United States, and how the majority of the population cares about what’s true.

However, Carlson expressed his disappointment in the quality of discussions about important issues that will define the country’s future. He mentions topics such as wars, civil liberties, emerging science, demographic changes, corporate power, and natural resources, and notes that there is a consensus among political parties and their donors to shut down any conversation about them.

Carlson believes that the current orthodoxies won’t last, as they are “brain-dead” and nobody believes in them. He also suggests that the people in charge are aware of this, which is why they are hysterical and aggressive. However, he believes that the truth will prevail, and when honest people speak the truth calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful.

From the video:

The other thing you notice when you take a little time off is how unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are. They are completely irrelevant. They mean nothing. In five years, we won’t even remember that we had them. Trust me, as someone who has participated. And yet, at the same time, and this is the amazing thing, the undeniably big topics, the ones that will define our future, get virtually no discussion at all. Wars, civil liberties, emerging science, demographic changes, corporate power, natural resources. When was the last time you heard a legitimate debate about any of those issues?

It’s been a long time. Debates like that are not permitted in American media. Both political parties and their donors have reached consensus on what benefits them, and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it. Suddenly, the United States looks very much like a one-party state. That’s a depressing realization, but it’s not permanent.

Our current orthodoxies won’t last. They’re brain-dead. Nobody actually believes them. Hardly anyone’s life is improved by them. This moment is too inherently ridiculous to continue, and so it won’t. The people in charge know this. That’s why they are hysterical and aggressive. They’re afraid. They’ve given up persuasion, they are resorting to force, but it won’t work.

When honest people say what is true, calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful. At the same time, the liars who’ve been trying to silence them shrink. They become weaker. That’s the iron law of the universe. True things prevail. Where can you still find Americans saying true things? There aren’t many places left, but there are some, and that’s enough. As long as you can hear the words, there is hope. See you soon.

Carlson touches on a few important points here. For starters, he is largely right when he characterizes how the majority of debates we see playing out in the media are “stupid” and “irrelevant.” Indeed, I have noticed this as well. As our federal government comes up with new and innovative ways to violate our rights, we tend to focus on silly arguments over the skin color of a mermaid or other erroneous “issues.” This only makes it easier for the state to continue expanding in a way that makes it even more intrusive than it already is. And yes, the uniparty is real and it does not have your best interests at heart.

The former Fox News host also nails it when he hones in on the “debates that are not permitted” in the press and how both political sides are intent on shaping the narrative in a way that typically benefits nobody except the elites. Indeed, one of the main drawbacks of cable news is that it does not allow for robust, in-depth debate on the issues that matter most to Americans.

As someone who has made appearances on Fox News multiple times, I can tell you it is very difficult to inject insight, nuance, and substance into a conversation that only lasts about five minutes and gives you less than a minute total to articulate your points. This doesn’t exactly allow for discussions that encourage people to think more critically about politics, culture, and society. It is also important to remember that it is not only Fox News that has this issue. It applies to most, if not all, cable news networks.

Carlson was right on all these points. But it raises a question I have pondered for years: Is America ready for more substantive conversations? Is there even a market for content that goes deeper, exploring various angles of an issue?

I tend to be pessimistic on most issues, but my answer to this question is: Yes.

I think there are plenty of people out there who are hungry for solutions and conversations that can lead to solutions. They want to better understand the various viewpoints that surround the issues of the day. Sure, most might still prefer their echo chambers, and digital media is the perfect way to do this. But the internet has also given rise to voices like Joe Rogan and others who do long-form content with a wide variety of different individuals who have a plethora of viewpoints on the topics that dominate the news cycle.

If Carlson is hoping to improve the quality of our national conversations, then perhaps it is a silver lining to his firing. Cable news will still be cable news. But perhaps the digital age can offer America something better.

The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of


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