Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Fox News Goes the Way of the Landline

Fox News Goes the Way of the Landline

And not a Moment Too Soon

The same network that called Tucker Carlson a “Right-wing extremist” has decided to put Donald Trump back on prime time. As their hypocrisy comes full circle, a pathetic #boycottcnn hashtag bloomed on Twitter. As if.

CNN’s ratings were in near-total collapse when Trump threw them a lifeline. By contrast, the Murdochs dumped their best ratings-getter for speaking too many uncomfortable truths.

To many on the Left, reality and truth are negotiable. They can fool themselves into believing Carlson was dumped for being a “racist” and “inciting violence.” But Fox News clearly had no idea what they had with Tucker Carlson and now they’ve taken one step closer to their own demise.

The thing about evolution - there are only two options: adapt or die. Tucker Carlson is choosing adaption, taking his chances with the free market and the energy driven by those who can readily access his videos instead of making sure they are in the right place at the right time, or finding it later on Youtube.

No, this is not an era of waiting. It’s not an era of organizing your life around scheduled programming. This is an era of on-demand media. No members of Generation-Z or any that come up after them will have any clue there was once such a thing as cable news.

They will never understand tribal warfare going to battle on the cable news networks. They will never understand the muscular champion dropping their most popular host and taking such a major hit, and why that was such a big deal. They will think it all sounds so preposterous, so silly.

They don’t remember the landline either, when one family had a phone and if you wanted to call someone you had to take your chances with whomever might answer. They have no idea what it means to say, “Is Susan there?” Or “May I please speak to Susan?”

They don’t know about writing checks for cash at the market or how to use a message machine. They don’t know beepers or ice delivery or milkmen. They can’t know life before the iPhone or GPS or Door Dash or Netflix. Their world is one of give it to me right now.

While it’s true that they will wait a week for the latest Kardashian episode, an hour of news in primetime is definitely not their bag. If they get news at all, they get it through social media - Tik Tok mainly, or Instagram, or Twitter.

Carlson had a way of cutting through the noise and somehow reaching that generation who, if they were curious at all about how censorious and oppressive thought and speech have become, would be just as excited to find the treasure trove of free thought Fox News had with their popular host.

With Carlson now on Twitter that makes it much sexier, more alive than it’s ever been, and boy, has it caused an uproar, as one might imagine. He probably isn’t going to remain permanently on Twitter but will begin to build a platform there before making his show available on his own site,

Trump’s invasion of Twitter once upon a time was bad enough. It kicked the country into mass chaos because the media narrative bounced off Twitter hysteria.

One reason so many tuned into Carlson, as opposed to reading Substack, is the human face. We want to see people telling us things as opposed to reading words on a screen. That is what drives the popularity of Tik Tok now. No need for memes or emojis if you have the OG. That’s what I love about this deal - Tucker is making Twitter a more multi-media experience, and that’s a good adaptation for the app. And for us.

By now, users are learning what they always needed to know all along, at least those with a backbone sticking around instead of scurrying off to more insulated, protected spaces.

The way you adapt to dissenting voices and diverse thoughts and opinions is to learn to live with it. If you try to shut it out or silence it, you must become authoritarian, fascist even.

I wasn’t a Fox News watcher. Like everyone else on the Left, I was comfortable mocking them, sneering at them, loving every minute of HBO’s Succession. Once I began to see, though, that so much of what I thought was true about the other half of America wasn’t true at all, I was motivated to investigate Tucker Carlson. Who was he? Was he as bad as they said he was? Was he a racist?

What brought me to his show was the Summer of 2020. I was sick of being lied to and gaslighted by the media over COVID and the protests. The only voice I could find online willing to go there was Tucker Carlson.

He was willing to shake off accusations that just criticizing what we were seeing unfolding on the streets was racist. That kind of courage was in short supply back then. So much of what he said continues to resonate today because it was true.

Defund the Police was a disaster for the residents in many of the cities destroyed that Summer. And it still is. The Democrats continue to pretend like they had nothing to do with that. But because someone was willing to tell the truth back then, we have a record of it.

Tucker Carlson told the truth and spared no one in his assessment of how things went down, and he even went after Trump, which made his coverage more balanced than anyone else on cable news, especially on the Left.

From then on, I tuned in to hear what he had to say every night because I knew that no matter what else, he would give it to me straight. And he would talk about things no one on the Left dared but that the American people were genuinely worried about, like “gender affirming care,” like women’s sports.

It was always a relief to know his show had such high ratings because that meant people were watching and listening. They will still try to sideline what he talks about but at least he’s out there, still willing to speak out.

To my friends on the Left, this is high treason, but for me, at some point, I was not able to keep up the facade. I’d rather be where I am now, exiled and hated, than be living what I know now was a lie.

If the moral panic is that there are racists, racists everywhere, then one can only imagine what it would be like to be someone who watches Tucker Carlson. But I have come to see this moment as another in those regrettable eras of purges and persecutions.

Why would anyone support a political movement that tries to silence so much of what makes this country uniquely diverse, not just in terms of skin color, but in thought, and speech?

People crave honesty now, so much so that Carlson’s announcement of his new show already has 23 million views in one day. On their best night, Fox would get around 4 million views. And usually, only Carlson could get those numbers.

The Murdochs and the executives at Fox probably figure, oh well, our viewers will come back because they have no other choice. They can’t go to CNN or MSNBC. They get off work, sit down after dinner, and just want to catch up on the news. They’ll come back.

But guess what? We aren’t coming back, at least, I’m not. I’m fully prepared to boycott Fox and know I’m not the only one. If they would explained it to their viewers, or given Tucker a chance to say goodbye - something, anything. But they didn’t. They left all of us twisting in the wind.

Megyn Kelly lays it out like only she can:

They do have good people on the network still left. But those voices can still be found on Youtube. Jesse Waters seem to be the next in line.

But even if they groom him to be the next Tucker, that might work to kick the can down the road for a while. But how long until the Murdochs decide that he, too, has become too popular and too influential and isn’t enough of an ass-kisser to control?

Waters will have to play nice with Big Pharma and whatever else the Murdochs want him to ignore. Once his audience understands that he can be bought, silenced, or controlled, they’ll lose respect for him anyway.

They seem to believe they could afford to lose someone as popular as Tucker. What they don’t realize, what they can’t see, what no one has told them is that cable news, and much of network television overall, is dying.

Its audiences will age out, and new audiences won’t be tuning in. Why should they? They have everything they want and more on streaming, Youtube, and TikTok.

Fox’s efforts to expand with Fox Nation might have been promising, but they’ve now dumped the main draw there too. Tucker Carlson was the only reason so many people like me paid for it.

I don’t think the Murdochs understand exactly how fast things can change. Amazon came along and mostly put bookstores out of business. Apple’s iPhone ended the Treo and the Blackberry. We buy all our music online, and hardly anyone buys records or CDs.

Remember typewriters? Remember white-out? Remember fax machines? Information is moving faster and faster. So much of what was once normal is about to go extinct.

We weren’t prepared for so many top-down changes by the richest oligarchs in the world at the people’s expense. We rely on the free market to give us at least some power.

Bad box office should make Hollywood rethink its output. Tucker’s ratings should mean the Murdochs value him and keep him on air. Viewers like me stupidly trusted them to care about what we wanted, not what they wouldn’t tolerate.

Matt Taibbi and Walter Kirn point out that if you can’t count on greed to keep someone on the air, what can you count on?

Well, Musk is ready to blast it wide open and hand it back to the free market. Tucker Carlson has more freedom now to say what he really thinks. He’s an electrifying speaker and a powerful alpha voice to help us through this moment of transition.

It isn’t easy going up against a culture that demands conformity, but we need our brave storytellers, journalists, columnists, and yes, cable news hosts to help us tear through the plastic wrap and show us what’s real.

We are living through extraordinary times. Pay attention because we’ll all be telling stories about it in years to come.

We’ve been here before, and in that history, we always counted on the voices of dissent to shake the tree and remind us to think. We must learn how to not just adapt to those voices, but to thrive alongside them.

Speech, like information, like truth, wants to be free. And America is their True North.

Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Essays on politics and culture from Sasha Stone's Substack. A former Democrat and Leftist who escaped the bubble to get to know the other side of the country and to take a more critical look at the left.