Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes Quit Fox News in Protest of Tucker Carlson’s ‘Revisionist History’ Jan. 6 Special

 

Tucker Carlson Patriot Purge

Two Fox News contributors, Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, have resigned from the network in protest over Tucker Carlson’s Patriot Purge special about the events of Jan. 6, calling it “dangerous” and “revisionist history.”

Carlson’s three-part special aired on Fox Nation and was loudly criticized by a variety of media commentators and fact checkers, including Mediaite’s Colby Hall, who wrote that it would be an “understatement” to label the series “a fever pitch of deranged conspiracy theories.”

“There is no evidence that the FBI, or any government agency, orchestrated the attack or incited it,” wrote PolitiFact about Patriot Purge. “And there is no evidence that it was staged or a false flag.”

Goldberg, formerly at National Review, and Hayes, formerly at The Weekly Standard, were part of a group of Never-Trumpers and Trump-skeptics who founded The Dispatch in 2019. They have carved out a unique niche for themselves in a conservative media world still rocking from the seismic impact of former President Donald Trump’s surprise success in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, even more shocking victory in the general election, and continued influence over a wide swath of the GOP voter base.

According to a report by New York Times media columnist Ben Smith, the two men discussed quitting Fox soon after the trailer for Carlson’s special was first posted online on Oct. 27, with Goldberg texting Hayes “I’m tempted just to quit Fox over this.”

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

Goldberg told Smith that they had stayed on at Fox News “because of a sense from conversations at Fox that, after Mr. Trump’s defeat, the network would try to recover some of its independence and, as he put it, ‘right the ship.'”

However, the network’s involvement in the Patriot Purge series — it aired on the subscription streaming service Fox Nation, not on Fox News, but was promoted multiple times on the television channel — was viewed, in Goldberg’s words, as “a sign that people have made peace with this direction of things, and there is no plan, at least, that anyone made me aware of for a course correction.”

Hayes expressed his concern about the widely viewed Fox News (Carlson in particular is a longstanding ratings juggernaut) promoting the threat of  “a domestic war on terror and it’s coming for half of the country.”

“That’s not true,” said Hayes, calling out Carlson’s series for amplifying this kind of conspiracy theory because of the risk that some viewers would believe it as the literal truth, making it “truly dangerous in a way that the usual hyperbole that you get on a lot of cable news isn’t.”

Goldberg and Hayes sent an email message to Dispatch subscribers Sunday evening, explaining that while they had been Fox News contributors “for a long time,” and had “enjoyed ourselves and believed we were contributing to a good cause” for most of that time, that feeling had changed recently.

“And the tension has grown between what we are building at The Dispatch—a fact-driven, center-right media company—and what’s come to dominate the network, particularly in primetime,” they wrote.

In late October, Tucker Carlson aired a promotion for a series he produced for Fox Nation, Fox’s subscription streaming service, called Patriot Purge. It’s a revisionist history of January 6, one in which those who entered the Capitol are largely portrayed as misunderstood patriots and many of those responsible for the violence are government officials or agents provocateurs acting on their behalf. Among the main protagonists of the series are the organizer of the “Stop the Steal” rallies and a racist fired from the Trump White House for his associations with white nationalists. The message of the series? The U.S. government is coming after patriots as part of a “War on Terror 2.0,” using the same tools and tactics used to fight al-Qaeda.

This isn’t true, and it’s dangerous to pretend it is. And for us, it was way too far. We resigned after watching the series in its entirety and asked Fox to release us from the rest of our contracts.

The email concluded by saying they were “disappointed” and had “enjoyed great relationships” with many of their Fox colleagues. “But after watching the series, what had long been a difficult decision quickly became an obvious one.”

A longer version of the message was posted at The Dispatch. “We remain grateful for the opportunities we’ve had at Fox and we continue to admire many of the hard-working journalists who work there,” they wrote. “This is our last recourse. We do not regret our decision, even if we find it regrettably necessary.”

Goldberg and Hayes’ colleague and fellow Trump critic David French tweeted his support, saying he was “proud” to work with them and they had “made a hard, good call.”

Smith called Carlson for his reaction, and the Fox News host said Goldberg and Hayes’ resignations were “great news” and added, “our viewers will be grateful.”

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