During a May 10 earnings call with investors, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch touted Fox’s success without mentioning that the network’s business strategy hinges on its highest-rated show featuring its most extreme news personality, Tucker Carlson.
Fox’s strategy for growth relies on Carlson’s white nationalist and extreme rhetoric bringing in viewers. Though Murdoch’s removal of Carlson from the Fox equation does not accurately reflect the network’s business strategy and is a misdirection play targeting investors and advertisers alike, it’s not surprising. Carlson has become a cancer to the network’s advertiser base.
Days before the company holds its important “upfronts” event in New York City, Murdoch bragged about various Fox News personalities on the company’s earnings call. Conspicuously not mentioned was Fox’s biggest star: Tucker Carlson.
Carlson is the centerpiece of Fox News’ programming and on its streaming service, Fox Nation. Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, the network’s top executives, fully endorse Carlson’s dangerous misinformation and pro-Russian, racist, and white nationalist views. The Murdochs’ embrace of white nationalism, long documented by Media Matters, was further confirmed by The New York Times’ recent three-part investigation into Carlson’s rise at Fox.
While on the earnings call, Murdoch repeatedly emphasized to investors that Fox’s ad-supported entertainment streaming service Tubi is the centerpiece of the corporation's upfronts strategy. Murdoch mentioned Tubi 26 times, and “Fox News” only 12 times, even though Fox News was the biggest driver of growth at the company during the previous quarter.
When Murdoch did mention Fox, he celebrated the network's revenue, advertising, and distribution growth and singled out the achievements and ratings of certain Fox News shows, pointing specifically to The Five, GUTFELD!, and Jesse Watters Primetime.
While name-dropping these programs, Murdoch dishonestly concealed where he and the network have placed their bets, failing to mention Tucker Carlson Tonight, the network’s most-watched program in the key 25-54 age demographic and the highest-rated prime-time news show in America. He attributed Fox’s success to the company’s “core business units,” which he claimed have placed Fox Corp. in an “enviable position” going into upfronts on May 16. Again, if you drill down further into the “core,” you’ll find Tucker Carlson products prolific across both Fox News and Fox Nation.
Murdoch also lionized Fox Nation’s success, telling investors, “The Fox Nation subscriber base has more than tripled in less than 18 months, driving engagement levels to new heights in each quarter.” Carlson is the face of Fox Nation, hosting a thrice-weekly show and a “documentary” series. The streaming service is filled with his white nationalism, fascism, antisemitism, and racism.
Media Matters has previously noted that Fox Nation hinges its growth strategy on Carlson and former President Donald Trump. Carlson’s prime-time show Tucker Carlson Tonight, his documentary series Tucker Carlson Originals, and his thrice-weekly interview show Tucker Carlson Today, are all part of the Murdochs' strategy to cram as much of Carlson’s bigoted views into a streaming service as possible.
Murdoch’s strategy on the investment call is part of a broader public relations strategy his company has recently deployed. In comments to the mainstream media, Fox executives have repeatedly emphasized their ancillary products, like its entertainment offerings on Fox Nation and its weather service Fox Weather, to distract advertisers from the network’s conspiracy theories, white supremacy, and violent rhetoric.
Murdoch and other Fox executives cannot ignore the network’s noxious programming through selective promotion. Fox’s toxicity is a packaged deal, and any success is directly connected to Carlson.