Did Fox News Just Find Religion?

Photograph Source: Gage Skidmore – CC BY-SA 2.0

Tucker Carlson got fired!

Many liberals are celebrating, calling it a reckoning — a win for racial justice and decency. With this bombshell revelation, some might even believe that Fox News has finally gotten religion and seen the error of its ways. It’s better late than never, they say. Salvation is always possible.

But if Fox did find religion, why did it take so long? Religion is not something that is found overnight. It is a conversion that moves us when it takes hold at the core of our being. It’s hard to believe that Fox has suddenly seen the light and come to the conclusion that the blatant racism, hatred and xenophobia that the network has trafficked in for so long is not something they want to continue. Does Fox News want us to believe that it has seen the light and knelt at the altar of repentance because it finally jettisoned the leading and most incendiary voice of racial hatred?

Why now?

Why has the network at this moment felt a need to jettison Tucker Carlson from his throne? FOX had no problem previously with the racism, xenophobia, replacement theories, conspiracy theories and the blatantly white supremacist tropes spewing from his mouth each evening. The network not only did not have a problem with Carlson’s lies, half-truths, and propagandist rhetoric, it benefited enormously and was the cornerstone of ratings and advertising dollars. If FOX suddenly found religion, it was a different religion than the voice Paul heard on the road to Damascus that caused a radical change of heart. It was a different religion than the bright light of revelation from heaven that makes one turn away from one’s complacency and complicity — from slavery, Jim Crow, unabashed and unchecked capitalism, and patriarchy. It was a different religion than that which makes one realize there is no salvation for Jews that can be brought from a state that justifies apartheid for safety.

At best, the kind of religion FOX found was the $787.5 million judgment agreement kind of spirit. It was not the fear of fire and brimstone and souls burning in hell. It was not the inability to live in one’s own skin and sleep at night while doing nothing to stop the extrajudicial execution of Black and Brown in their own homes and neighborhoods and/or to stop refugee children from being separated from their parents and held in concentration camps at the U.S.-Mexico border. At best, the payout of nearly $1 billion dollars to Dominion Voting Systems, and the other legal threats looming, is FOX’s interpretation of dangling over the fires of hell.

If FOX has seen the light, even just the light of financial salvation, then it will purge itself not just of Carlson, but of all of the minions of hell that continue to pollute its airwaves with the filth of hatred, racism and white supremacy. Why fire Carlson but continue to offer airtime to white supremacist ideologues like Laura Ingraham and Maria Bartiromo, who have each engaged in the same distortions that Carlson is guilty of? Why exchange one divisive and hateful personality for another? True religion requires clear directional change. Repentance requires amends.

Can you imagine if it had been a Black or Brown person on the air spewing anti-white rhetoric, embracing hate-filled divisive ideologies, and fanning historical flames of the country’s tendencies towards violence? How long will they be allowed on the air?

The very same day that FOX ousted Carson, CNN fired Don Lemon. Was the exact same day timing of the firings — weeks after Lemon said that Nikki Haley was “not in her prime” and CNN sent him to sensitivity training — a coincidence? Perhaps it was a joint sacrifice to the Gods of ratings, the almighty God of the dollar by networks who claim to be arch-enemies but are part of the same system.

Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler is an advisor with FOR-USA and the founder and president of Faith Strategies USA. Until retiring from his position in 2022 Hagler was Senior Minister at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. Ariel Gold is the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA (FOR-USA), the oldest interfaith peace and justice organization in the US.