At Fox News, far-right opinion host Tucker Carlson has not only been a supporter of Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán and promoted the racist, anti-Semitic Great Replacement theory — he has also been an apologist for the insurrectionists who violently assaulted the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 in the hope of stopping Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over then-President Donald Trump. And Carlson's coverage of January 6 is so beyond the pale that two conservative journalists, according to National Public Radio, have left Fox News because of it.
Those conservatives, NPR's David Folkenflik reports, are Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes. Goldberg is known his years as a National Review editor. And Hayes was with the now-defunct Weekly Standard, whose Bill Kristol started The Bulwark with fellow Never Trump conservative Charlie Sykes following the Standard's demise.
"Two long-time conservative Fox News commentators have resigned in protest of what they call a pattern of incendiary and fabricated claims by the network's opinion hosts in support of former President Donald Trump. In separate interviews with NPR, Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg pointed to a breaking point earlier this month: network star Tucker Carlson's three-part series on the January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol that relied on fabrications and conspiracy theories to exonerate the Trump supporters who participated in the attack."
Goldberg and Hayes, Folkenflik notes, became "mainstays" of Bret Baier's "Special Report" when Fox News hired them in 2009. And together, Goldberg and Hayes started the conservative website The Dispatch.
Goldberg, interviewed by NPR, said of "Patriot Purge," Carlson's three-part series, "It's basically saying that the Biden regime is coming after half the country, and this is the War on Terror 2.0. It traffics in all manner of innuendo and conspiracy theories that I think legitimately could lead to violence. That, for me and for Steve, was the last straw."
Speaking to NPR, Hayes was vehemently critical of Fox News for airing promotional videos for Carlson's "Patriot Purge" series.
"I thought it was irresponsible to put that out into the public airwaves," Hayes told NPR. "The trailer (for the series) basically gave people the impression that the U.S. government was coming after all patriots — half of the country, in the word of one of the protagonists in the piece. And that the federal government was going to be using the tools and tactics that it used to go after Al-Qaida. And that's not happening. That's not true."
Hayes continued, "It's a narrative that's contradicted by certainly the vast collection of legal documents charging those who participated in January 6, the broad reporting by a wide variety of news outlets on what happened on January 6 then and in the time since — and contradicted in part by Fox News' own news site and the reporting that people on the news side have done."
Goldberg also told NPR, "Being a Fox contributor is kind of a brass ring in conservative and right-wing circles, and I was well-compensated. I'm not looking to be a martyr or ask for pity or any of that kind of stuff. But it's a significant financial hit, for sure. And it's also cutting yourself off from a very large audience. We don't regret the decision, but we found it regrettable that we had to make the decision."