Speed Reads

Patriot Purge

2 prominent conservatives quit Fox News over Tucker Carlson's Jan. 6 'incoherent conspiracy-mongering'

Longtime conservative commentators Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes made a public break with Fox News on Sunday night, announcing their resignations as paid Fox News contributors and citing Tucker Carlson's online special Patriot Purge as the final straw. Hayes and Goldberg, top editors at The Weekly Standard and National Review, founded The Dispatch in 2019, largely in response to what they saw as the conservative media's sycophantic capitulation to former President Donald Trump and his "alternative facts."

When they joined Fox News in 2009, and for most of the next decade, "we were proud to be associated with the network" and believed it was necessary, Hayes and Goldberg explained at The Dispatch. But the decision to air and promote Carlson's dangerous "collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering" showed them that, despite assurances otherwise, Fox News is not clawing back any of its pre-Trump independence.

Patriot Purge was "a sign that people have made peace with this direction of things, and there is no plan, at least, that anyone made me aware of for a course correction" or "righting the ship," Goldberg told The New York Times' Ben Smith. "The Patriot Purge thing meant: Okay, we hit the iceberg now, and I can't do the rationalizations anymore."

"Ten years ago it would have been utterly unfathomable" to see Goldberg and Hayes "leave Fox News in protest of the network's coverage," Politico's Sam Stein observed. "But here we are." Their resignations are "simply part of the new right's mopping up operation in the corners of conservative institutions that still house pockets of resistance" to Trump, Smith writes. While Hayes and Goldberg have "both appeared occasionally on the evening show Special Report and on Fox News Sunday," it's "been years since they were welcome on Fox's prime time."

Special Report anchor Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace also "shared their objections" to Patriot Purge "with Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and its president of news, Jay Wallace," NPR's David Folkenflik reports. "Those objections rose to Lachlan Murdoch," CEO of Fox's parent company. Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch recently lamented to shareholders that Trump's fixation with the past is stunting Fox's future.

Goldberg told NPR it was hard quitting his prestigious and "well-compensated" Fox News gig. "We don't regret the decision," he said. "But we found it regrettable that we had to make the decision." Carlson told Smith the departure of Hayes and Goldberg is "great news" and "our viewers will be grateful."