Two longtime Fox News contributors quit over Tucker Carlson special: "It will lead to violence"

"The voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible"

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published November 22, 2021 10:00AM (EST)

Tucker Carlson (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Tucker Carlson (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Two Fox News contributors have quit their jobs over host Tucker Carlson's documentary on the January 6 Capitol riot, fearing that the film would lead to "violence."

Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg expressed their grievances in an open letter on Monday, writing: "Fox News still does real reporting, and there are still responsible conservatives providing valuable opinion and analysis. But the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible."

"A case in point: Patriot Purge, a three-part series hosted by Tucker Carlson," the duo added. 

Hayes and Goldberg – former editors at the Weekly Standard and The National Review – reportedly began mulling their resignations back in late October, when the film's trailer was first released. 

RELATED: Former Fox News reporter slams Tucker Carlson's Jan. 6 special: A "betrayal to the public"

"I'm tempted just to quit Fox over this," Goldberg wrote to Hayes at the time. 

"I'm game," Hayes responded. "Totally outrageous. It will lead to violence. Not sure how we can stay."

The film was released on Fox News' online streaming service just days after the exchange. 

Patriot Purge, Carlson's first film debut, sets out to explore the Capitol riot through the lens of various outlandish right-wing conspiracies, entertaining the idea, for example, that the insurrection was an FBI-led false-flag operation designed to tarnish the reputation of the conservative movement. 

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"It's basically saying that the Biden regime is coming after half the country and this is the War on Terror 2.0," Goldberg told NPR. "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."

Hayes echoed his colleague: "It's a narrative that's contradicted by certainly the vast collection of legal documents charging those who participated in January 6th, the broad reporting by a wide variety of news outlets on what happened on January 6th then and in the time since, and contradicted in part by Fox News's own news site and the reporting that people on the news side have done."

RELATED: Tucker Carlson suggests that FBI operatives organized the Jan. 6 insurrection on the US Capitol

Carlson, for his part, told The New York Times that Hayes and Goldberg's resignations are "great news," adding: "Our viewers will be grateful."

Fox News' release of "Patriot Purge" in many ways solidifies the channel's ideological alignment with Donald Trump, who has repeatedly downplayed the insurrection, as the Times' Ben Smith suggests. Fox's allegiance to the former president was recently questioned after it was reported that Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch privately casted Trump as a bygone figure in the GOP.

"The current American political debate is profound, whether about education or welfare or economic opportunity," Murdoch said in a shareholder meeting last week, according to Deadline. "It is crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in that debate, but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past. The past is the past, and the country is now in a contest to define the future."

Back in October, Carlson also received criticism from his colleague, Geraldo Rivera, who suggested that "Patriot Purge" might do more to "provoke, rather than illuminate."

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief Capitol Riot Fox News Jan. 6 Jonah Goldberg Tucker Carlson