Two top FOX News hosts reportedly expressed their concerns about Tucker Carlson’s Patriot Purge series before it aired earlier this month and two contributors quit over the documentary’s claims.
According to a report from NPR, senior FOX News figures Bret Baier and Chris Wallace raised their objections to the three-part documentary series to network leaders, including FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and president of the network’s news division, Jay Wallace.
Their complaints about the show’s dubious claims eventually made their way up to Lachlan Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of FOX Corporation.
But network executives still allowed Carlson’s untrue three-part documentary series accusing President Biden of setting up the January 6 riots in order to ‘conduct an ideological purge and persecute conservatives’ to air earlier this month – even as some FOX News hosts debunked its claims.
The network’s decision to broadcast the documentary led to the resignations of two of its longtime contributors, Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, who lambasted the series as ‘an alternative history of January 6, contradicted not just by common sense, not just by the testimony and on-the-record statements of many participants, but by the reporting of the news division of Fox News itself.’
In his three-part ‘false flag’ series, Carlson tries to paint the hundreds of Trump supporters who descended on the Capitol on January 6 as ‘patriots’ fighting for their country – while also positing that the riots were set up by the left to provide an excuse for arresting conservatives.
In the first episode of his Patriot Purge, Carlson claims the government has ‘begun to fight a new enemy in a new war on terror.
‘Not, you should understand, a metaphorical war, but an actual war, soldiers and paramilitary agencies hunting down American citizens.’
These claims, though, were debunked by some of the network’s contributors as the news division tried to distance itself from the documentary.
On the Friday before the three-part series aired, Bret Baier aired a segment on the investigation of the January 6 insurrection by veteran national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin.
She dismissed claims of a ‘false flag attack,’ which posits that violent left-wing activists, such as Antifa, pretended to be Trump fans as they seized the Capitol that day.
Chris Wallace, meanwhile, broadcast an interview with Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, a staunch Trump critic who also dismissed the claims put forward in Carlson’s series.
Cheney is one of just two Republicans who serves on the House committee investigating the insurrection.
In the wake of Carlson’s series, two longtime FOX News contributors – Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg – tendered their resignations.
Hayes told NPR he thought it was irresponsible to broadcast the series.
‘The trailer basically gave people the impression that the U.S. government was coming after all patriots – half of the country, in the word of one of the protagonists in the piece,’ he said.
‘And that the federal government was going to be using the tools and tactics that it used to go after al-Qaeda. And that’s not happening. That’s not true.
‘It’s a narrative that’s contradicted by certainly the vast collection of legal documents charging those who participated in January 6, the broad reporting by a wide variety of news outlets on what happened on January 6 then and in the time since, and contradicted in part by FOX News’ own news sites and the reporting that people on the news side have done.’
He and Goldberg have said they are concerned about the potential the documentary might have to incite further violence and also influence FOX’s direction of news coverage in the post-Trump era.
‘Over the past five years, some of Fox’s top opinion hosts amplified the false claims and bizarre narratives of Donald Trump or offered up their own in his service. In this sense, the release of Patriot Purge wasn’t an isolated incident, it was merely the most egregious example of a longstanding trend,’ the pair wrote in a statement on their website.
‘Patriot Purge creates an alternative history of January 6, contradicted not just by common sense, not just by the testimony and on-the-record statements of many participants, but by the reporting of the news division of Fox News itself,’ they contend.
They said they do not want their names associated with these claims, and have started their own conservative news website, The Dispatch, in 2019.
Hayes, the founding CEO and editor, and Goldberg, its editor-in-chief, say the site is intended to appeal to conservatives with commentary and news.
‘We launched The Dispatch in part to model behavior we thought was increasingly missing on the right, particularly in conservative media,’ Goldberg told NPR.
He said the online magazine, which now has nearly 30,000 paying subscribers each paying $100 for a yearly subscription, is ‘not beholden to a partisan agenda’ and is ‘not looking to simply monetize dopamine hits by making people angry.’
Goldberg and Hayes had been longstanding figures on the cable news channel.
They said that after Trump’s defeat in 2020 they had hoped Fox News might ‘right the ship,’ but the fact network executives were pushing ahead with the Patriot Purge documentary 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.’
‘This [false flag] is not happening. And we think it’s dangerous to pretend it is. If a person with such a platform shares such misinformation loud enough and long enough, there are Americans who will believe — and act upon — it,’ Goldberg and Hayes said in a statement.
‘This isn’t theoretical. This is what actually happened on January 6, 2021.’
Some news outlets have described Patriot Purge as ‘disturbing evidence of right-wing radicalization, complete with January 6 denialism and paranoid descriptions of a ‘new war on terror’ targeting Republicans.’
Goldberg and Hayes no longer wanted to be a part of it.
Another one of Carlson’s colleagues, Geraldo Rivera, has also described the false flag theory that was aired in the documentary as ‘bulls***’.
Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, was pleased Hayes and Goldberg were finally leaving the network and said it was ‘great news’ and the network’s ‘viewers will be grateful.’
In a statement to NPR, Carlson said their leave will ‘substantially improve the channel.
‘These are two of the only people in the world who still pretend the Iraq War was a good idea,’ he said. ‘No one wants to watch commentary that stupid.’
A Fox executive said the network had not planned to re-sign Steve Hayes or Jonah Goldberg when their contracts came up in 2022.