Monday brought a pair of high-profile separations in the cable news world. Fox News announced its decision to part ways with Tucker Carlson, followed shortly by news of Don Lemon’s departure from CNN. Although neither network provided much in the way of specifics, the firings seemed to catch both anchors – and the entire media world – by surprise.
Carlson’s ousting comes on the heels of Fox Corporation settling a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems and a separate lawsuit from last month against the host and network filed by former producer Abby Grossberg. Carlson was the network’s top-rated primetime cable news host, so the shocking move will leave a primetime vacancy for Fox News – and it plans to replace him, at least in the interim, with “Fox News Tonight.”
CivicScience’s latest data indicates that Fox News might face heightened viewership challenges post-Carlson. Nearly one-quarter of U.S. adults claim they’re at least ‘somewhat less likely’ to watch Fox News after Carlson’s departure – with 16% clocking in at ‘much less likely,’ which more than doubles the figure of those claiming they’re ‘much more likely’ to watch now.
The impact on Fox News viewers could be more significant. Close to one-third of Fox News viewers claim they’re now at least ‘somewhat less likely’ to watch the network. Although similar to the Gen Pop’s figure, 60% say their viewing habits will be unchanged. CNN and MSNBC viewers slightly over-index for saying they’re at least ‘somewhat more likely’ to watch Fox in his absence, but the vast majority are unchanged.
As for Lemon, his exit is inspiring a slightly less fervent negative response among the Gen Pop and CNN viewers. A greater percentage of U.S. adults (16%) claim they’re ‘more likely’ to watch CNN after Lemon’s exit than ‘less likely’ (13%). And while CNN viewers post even higher numbers in the ‘more likely’ camp (19%), they’re also drastically ‘less likely’ than the Gen Pop to tune in now (22% reporting they’re at least ‘somewhat less likely’) – but just 2% of CNN viewers rate as ‘much less likely’ to watch.
While it’s premature to predict either host’s next move, you could safely wager that their time in the public eye isn’t over yet. Thirty-six percent of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to follow Carlson’s next career venture – with 21% clocking in at ‘very likely.’ Fox News viewers are overwhelmingly more likely to follow his next steps, with 57% saying they’re ‘very likely’ to and nearly 80% claiming they’re at least ‘somewhat likely.’ If Carlson were to join a rival network or broadcast independently, he’d be well-positioned to peel off some viewership from Fox.
Lemon would command a smaller, but not insignificant audience in his future endeavors. Nineteen percent of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to follow his next move, with 5% clocking in at ‘very likely.’ A slight majority of CNN viewers are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to follow his next move, with 13% claiming they’re ‘very likely’ to follow his next steps.
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