On The Daily Beast’s The New Abnormal, Angelo Carusone describes how Fox's business model encourages Tucker Carlson to step into Rush Limbaugh's role in GOP politics

Carusone on Lachlan Murdoch's zealously supporting Tucker Carlson: “A nihilist at the helm with a ethno-nationalist as their guiding light is basically a recipe for the cruise ship to crash right into the dock”

Angelo Carusone on The New Abnormal, 5/10/22

Audio file

Citation From the May 10, 2022, edition of The Daily Beast's The New Abnormal

MOLLY JONG-FAST (HOST): What do you think happens now with Fox News?

ANGELO CARUSONE (MEDIA MATTERS PRESIDENT): They burn hot – really hot. I think they continue to get worse in every way, substance-wise, content-wise. They lose staff at every level who have even the tiniest shred of integrity, which allows them to get worse.

And that's not just because they want to. It's that, you know, the thing to keep in mind in this and I think this is just important context.

This is the first election in like 30 years where Rush Limbaugh is not the single largest get-out-the-vote operation in the country – 30 years. He was the single largest get-out-the-vote operation for three decades. And this is the first time that we are in a electoral cycle where that operation no longer exists. And what that's created is not just a void. 

JONG-FAST: So that could be good. I mean


JONG-FAST: That's like actually the first time anyone has come on this podcast and said something that didn't make me depressed. It's just it's a tragic life, right?

CARUSONE: It's a true fact, right? I mean, it's reminding you that Rush Limbaugh's dead is the first time somebody came on and didn't depress you.

JONG-FAST: Yes, yep. Merry Christmas

CARUSONE: But look, that matters because it means, like – there is a space right now for Tucker to step into that role, which is very clearly what he's trying to do. He's going to Iowa. Something Limbaugh used to do occasionally when he wanted to flex would be to give one speech at one major event as sort of a way to serve as a central sort of – to initiate the whirlwind and to lay out the case for the argument that they were going to make that cycle. Tucker's doing that this year. There's a void. So I think that what that means, though, is that in this void, no one's actually fully captured that mantle yet. But there's a lot of scramble happening. What does it mean for Fox? It means Fox will burn brighter. Partly because there's an opportunity. Partly because Tucker is hungry and he's scary. He's a full-on ethno-nationalist. And then the third thing is they need this. This is their last run. This is the last time they're going to redo the cable negotiations. 

JONG-FAST: Wait, why is it the last time? 

CARUSONE: Because everyone's cutting their cords. And so from a market perspective. 

JONG-FAST: It's going to go screaming. 

CARUSONE: Yeah, that's it. I mean, when once they finished this round of deals at the end of this year, you know, they'll they will last between four and six years. Within that time period, the bulk of revenue from cable subscriptions will have dried up. And so this is really a trend. So that's why they're trying to get so much this last run at the bank, you know, just trying to grab as much as they can.

But Tucker is the only person on the network that has demonstrated any capacity to convert Fox News viewers to Fox subscribers.


CARUSONE: So what does it mean for Fox? It means they're going to get a lot more racist and a lot nastier and they're going to be more present on the ground in places where – at political events, at major speeches, Tucker will be one of the vanguards there. But even Lachlan flew all the way to DC for a one-hour book party with Bill Barr and then flew all the way back home. I mean, just to be present, physically present in a Republican event like that, because they wanted to command that presence.

So they're going to try to figure out how they leverage and capture as much of the space that Limbaugh left vacant and burn hot so they can get more subscribers. And that's – it's that simple.

So it is a moment, you know, burning hot means you get burn out faster. And that's what I hope happens. And I think the article demonstrates that there's a lot of potential there. It also means that it could burn all of us. And I think we just have to be careful not to just pretend that this is the same Fox as always, because it is really fundamentally different.

And unlike Rupert Murdoch, who at least had a long-term horizon on the world even though he was bad. Lachlan Murdoch is worse, not because he's necessarily, like, morally worse. It's that Rupert Murdoch believed there would be a future and Lachlan Murdoch either doesn't or doesn't care.


CARUSONE: And that's bad. A nihilist at the helm with a ethno-nationalist as their guiding light is basically a recipe for the cruise ship to crash right into the dock.

JONG-FAST: Well now you've made me depressed again.