Background Briefing: April 24, 2023
Murdoch’s Abrupt Firing of Tucker Carlson and How Progressives Assumed They’d Dominate Social Media Only to be Outflanked by Right Wing Populism
We begin with the unceremonious and abrupt firing of Fox News’s highest paid and highest rated prime time presenter, Tucker Carlson, with little to no explanation from the Murdoch family after Carlson had promised on his Friday show to be back on Monday. With speculation that his firing was a result of the Dominion settlement, that it was prompted by a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former producer on his show, or that Rupert Murdoch was “concerned” about Carlson’s insistence that undercover government agents were involved in the January 6 insurrection swirling around, we speak with Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of Semafor and a former New York Times media columnist. He was previously the founding editor in chief of BuzzFeed News and has written about politics for Politico, The New York Daily News, The New York Observer and The New York Sun. We discuss his new book, out next week, Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral and look into the false assumption that progressives would dominate social media and the attention economy from building the foundation of viral internet media only to find that right wing populism has become a force propelled by Stephen Bannon, Andrew Breitbart and Elon Musk and others.
The Sudden Silencing of the Loudest and Most Commanding Voice That Had Republican Leaders Grovelling
Then we explore further how the mighty have fallen with the sudden silencing of Fox News’s loudest and most commanding voice that had Speaker McCarthy grovelling to accommodate Tucker Carlson’s whims while Texas Governor Abbott is considering pardoning the killer of a Black Lives Matter protester just because Tucker said so on his broadcast. Joining us is Adele Stan, an independent journalist who is a longtime chronicler of the right wing of U.S. politics. A winner of the Hillman Prize in Opinion & Analysis Journalism, her work has appeared in Mother Jones, The Nation, and The American Prospect as well as on the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
DeSantis’s Faltering Campaign as the Anointed Alternative To Trump is Starting to Look Like A Loser
Then finally we look into Ron DeSantis’s faltering campaign for the Republican presidential nomination which he has yet to announce but is clearly raising money for and assess how much the hype and desperate search for an alternative to Trump by Fox and the Republican donor class has invented a winner who is looking more and more like a loser. Joining us is Dr. Michael McDonald, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida. He is a principal investigator on the Public Mapping Project, a project to encourage public participation in redistricting, and also is the Director of the United States Election Project. He is the author of From Pandemic to Insurrection: Voting in the 2020 US Presidential Election.