Shocking exits of Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon, and Jeff Shell rock the TV industry

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tucker carlson looking like he ate a lemon

Tucker Carlson was ousted from Fox News on Monday.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • The TV industry has been rocked by exits in the past 24 hours.

  • NBCU CEO Jeff Shell, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, and CNN’s Don Lemon are all out.

  • Disney also started its second round of job cuts on Monday.

It’s judgment day in TV land.

In the past 24 hours, shockwave after shockwave has rocked the media ecosystem, and the news business in particular.

Though each exit has its own reasons, they will certainly not be the last shake-ups at three media companies going through seismic changes.

Shell’s bombshell exit took many insiders by surprise, Insider’s Claire Atkinson reported on Sunday.

“People are shocked,” one NBCU exec told her.

Comcast named its president Michael Cavanagh, to step in temporarily for Shell. But that didn’t stop tongues wagging about who could permanently replace Shell, or how NBCU could change. Two notable threads of thought have centered on whether Shell’s exit might give Comcast the chance to rethink its strategy with Peacock, a streamer that has been the butt of many a joke in Hollywood, and whether the CEO’s exit makes it more likely that NBCU could eventually combine with Warner Bros. Discovery (once it’s legally allowed).

The rumor mill hardly had time to get rolling when the biggest news of the 24-hour period dropped: Tucker Carlson was out at Fox News.

Carlson’s exit from Fox News came less than a week after Fox settled a lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million over the company’s promotion of election lies.

Prior to the settlement, embarrassing texts from Carlson came to light in which he said he “passionately” hated Donald Trump, among other comments that clashed with his on-air persona. In those texts, Carlson also sometimes took aim at Fox management, which The Washington Post reported Monday played a role in his outer (citing “a person familiar with the company’s thinking”).

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that the decision to fire Carlson came from Rupert Murdoch, citing “people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment publicly.” The outlet also reported that people said the discrimination lawsuit filed by the fired producer Abby Grossberg played a role in Carlson’s exit.

Many had predicted that the Dominion suit might lead the Fox boss Murdoch to offer some sort of “blood sacrifice,” as Puck’s Dylan Byers put it — as he had with Rebekah Brooks after the phone-hacking scandal. But Carlson’s stature makes a clear argument that it’s not business as usual at Fox News. If Carlson could be jettisoned so quickly, what other changes might happen at the network?

Fox News declined to comment beyond its press release saying it had agreed to “part ways” with Carlson. NBCU didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Media commenters had scarcely begun composing their tweets about the Carlson news when Don Lemon posted a screenshot on Twitter saying his agent had informed him he’d been terminated.

“I would have thought that someone in management would have the decency to tell me directly,” he wrote. The network disputed that characterization and said he had been “offered an opportunity to meet with management.”

Media watchers had been primed for a Lemon exit for weeks. The embattled host had been pulled off “CNN This Morning” for two days in February after saying Nikki Haley wasn’t a viable presidential candidate because she wasn’t “in her prime.” That was followed by a Variety report earlier this month that alleged Lemon had a history of misogynistic behavior toward coworkers.

Lemon’s outer comes as CNN CEO Chris Licht has sought to position the network as less partisan and remake its coverage in a post-Jeff Zucker world. Change has been the order of the day at CNN in recent months. But the dumping of Carlson and Lemon still shows how willing cable networks are in this moment to get rid of stars they may consider a risk to the larger organization.

With all the news of the past 24 hours, media insiders have barely even gotten a chance to drill down into the second wave of layoffs at Disney, which will number in the thousands.

If any media companies have bad news to share, today is probably a good time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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