Famous never Trumpers Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes quit as contributors for Fox News in protest of Tucker Carlson’s January 6 documentary suggesting that the Capitol Hill riot may have in part been sparked by the FBI.
In late October, as Carlson’s documentary hit the subscription service Fox Nation, Jonah Goldberg sent a text to Stephen Hayes wondering if he should quit the network.
“I’m tempted just to quit Fox over this.”
“I’m game,” Hayes replied. “Totally outrageous. It will lead to violence. Not sure how we can stay.”
Speaking with the New York Times, Hayes and Goldberg said they stayed on as contributors with Fox News despite their never Trump stance in hopes that they could help “right the ship” after the former president exited the White House. Those hopes were dashed with the arrival of Patriot Purge, Tucker Carlson’s documentary exploring January 6 and how the riot has allegedly been used by the Biden administration to crack down on patriotic Americans. Goldberg said the documentary was evidence 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.”
“Now, righting the ship is an academic question,” said Goldberg. “The ‘Patriot Purge’ thing meant: OK, we hit the iceberg now, and I can’t do the rationalizations anymore.”
Hayes, editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Weekly Standard, worried that the documentary could lead people into believing “that there’s a domestic war on terror and it’s coming for half of the country.”
“That’s not true,” said Hayes. “The imagery of waterboarding and suggestions that half the country is going to be subject to this kind of treatment, that’s the same kind of treatment that the federal government used when it went after Al Qaeda.”
“[Tucker Carlson] pumped that stuff out into society, and all you need is one person out of every 50,000 people who watch it to believe it’s literally the story about what happened, that it’s true in all of its particulars and all of its insinuations,” he added. “And that’s truly dangerous in a way that the usual hyperbole that you get on a lot of cable news isn’t.”
Goldberg recalled National Review founder William F. Buckley, who famously purged the John Birch Society from the right-wing as part of his mission to impose “seriousness on conservative arguments.”
“Whether it’s ‘Patriot Purge’ or anti-vax stuff, I don’t want it in my name, and I want to call it out and criticize it,” Goldberg said. “I don’t want to feel like I am betraying a trust that I had by being a Fox News contributor. And I also don’t want to be accused of not really pulling the punches. And then this was just an untenable tension for me.”
“There are lots of people there that I respect and like and consider friends, and they’re making a decision based upon how to provide for their families and deal with their careers and all of that. And I’m not going to second-guess them,” he later added. “And there are also lots of people over there who think the Fox opinion side today is awesome.”
For his part, Tucker Carlson expressed no sorrow over the resignations of Goldberg and Hayes, even going so far as to tell the New York Times that “our viewers will be grateful.”
Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti offered no comment on the resignations.