NYT’s Jim Rutenberg has answers to media angst over why Murdoch doesn’t ‘rein in’ Tucker Carlson

The answers to some questions are so obvious that you’d have to expect an ulterior motive from anyone who raised them, and so it seems was the case when a New York Times writer was asked to explain why Fox News doesn’t “rein in Tucker Carlson.”

Marketing teams may make a lot of self-aggrandizing claims, but when it comes to being the “number one name in news,” Fox News has consistently posted the ratings to back that message. Yet Mediaite editor Aiden McLaughlin contended that the “tricky” question he hears a lot in covering the cable news industry is: “Why doesn’t Fox News do anything to rein in Tucker Carlson?”

McLaughlin was joined by Jim Rutenberg from The New York Times Tuesday where they discussed the writer’s 2019 report on Rupert Murdoch turned into a documentary airing on CNN called “The Murdochs: Empire of Influence.” During the conversation, the writer was asked why the family has been “so hands off” when it comes to “fact-challenged commentary” from Carlson.

“As someone who’s watched them for so long, I am at times surprised that Tucker and all the personalities don’t get pulled back sometimes,” Rutenberg said before pointing out the obvious. “I think now it is a place where the big personalities are getting the ratings, they’re getting the revenues. It just seems like the network wants to give people a little more room.”

Of note, the same site that McLaughlin works for as editor-in-chief published Thursday that Carlson’s program “beat all other cable news shows in the 25-54 age demographic sought by advertisers.”

“The show pulled in 3.37 million viewers overall, with 515,000 of those in the demo. In terms of total viewers, Tucker Carlson came in second behind The Five on Fox News, which notched 3.54 million viewers, including 448,000 in the demo.”

Both programs routinely compete for the top spot with over 3 million views and last Wednesday happened to be the second night of the MLB postseason’s division series play broadcast and heavily promoted by Fox, likely contributing to the final totals.

It seemed that McLaughlin was less interested in the question itself and more inclined to find an avenue to smear the Fox News host for subjects covered on his program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“Carlson’s rap sheet of journalistic miscarriages gets longer by the day,” he wrote. “He used junk science to undermine Covid vaccines; he repeatedly cast doubt on the 2020 election; he embraced white nationalist replacement theory; he dismissed the clearly violent Jan. 6 riot as nonviolent and a potential false flag attack. Just last week he edited out anti-Semitic comments from an interview with Kanye West in order to present the pro-Trump rapper as reasonable.”

As one social media user posted, “Aidan begins his hit piece on Tucker by listing a bunch of stories that Tucker was right about. Hilarious.”

This didn’t end with McLaughlin’s take as Rutenberg went on to liken leadership at Fox News to “the captain of a pirate ship.”

“[Murdoch] loves letting his pirates run loose. And he doesn’t love to rein people in as long as they’re delivering the results. And in Rupert Murdoch’s world, the results are bottom line dollars and cents and circulation and ratings,” he said.

“[Carlson] was smart. He was different. They liked, as I understood it, the unpredictability of his show at the time,” Rutenberg went on. “I understood at the time (2019), too, that Lachlan was very high on Tucker. Tucker sort of saw that as license to do as he pleased. I don’t know what the state of the art of that is right now, other than Tucker continues to do as he pleases.”

Others were happy to steer the duo back from their bias-blinded confusion to a more reasonable understanding of why Carlson continues to conduct his show as he always has.


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Kevin Haggerty


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