The “New” Fox

The ‘new’ face of Fox News

English: Television commentator at CPAC in .

English: Television commentator at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Minutes into Fox News’s 8 o’clock programming last night, Tucker Carlson looked into the camera and said, “It’s all so bewildering. Things are changing really fast.” He was talking about health care legislation, but the statement could also be applied to his own rise to the most coveted real estate in the cable news landscape. Today, as Carlson wraps up his second week in the chair long occupied by Bill O’Reilly, we check in with the new face of Fox.

For CJR, Shaya Tayefe Mohajer says Carlson has “a real opportunity for him to become the respected gentleman journalist his famed bowtie always wanted him to be.” In the 1990s and early 2000s, Carlson built a journalism reputation as a conservative contrarian, writing most notably for The Weekly Standard. His byline appeared in Esquire, New York, and The New York Times Magazine. But cable news beckoned, and Carlson shifted his efforts to the screen. He passed through CNN and MSNBC before landing at Fox News in 2009, where he was a bit player until the departures of three evening hosts allowed him to vault into the network’s most valuable timeslot.

With O’Reilly’s forced exit over charges of sexual harassment, some in the media (myself included) hoped Fox’s flagship program might take on a more journalistically serious tone. So far, with few exceptions, that has not been the case. Mohajer, who pulls no punches in her column, writes that “Carlson’s early outings suggest the 47-year-old anchor intends to dutifully maintain the bedtime ritual of millions of aging Americans who want to growl at their televisions until it’s time to soak their dentures and dream of an America where many of us didn’t exist.”

Nothing changes: Variety’s Sonia Saraiya reviews Carlson’s new show, which she says follows “a template of the exact same demonizing, disingenuous rhetoric that has characterized his style for years and Fox News’ strategy for decades.”

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