Monday morning, two of the biggest names in TV — for opposite reasons — were canned or otherwise left their jobs. While Fox News’s Tucker Carlson’s and CNN’s Don Lemon’s departures from their respective networks occurred on the same day, their careers could not have been more different.
Carlson called things as he saw them — even when he saw things in a way that differed even from those on his own network — and Lemon often repeated Democratic talking points.
Carlson was a nightly fixture. Lemon was an afterthought. And the ratings proved it, over and over again.
Carlson led nightly cable with an average of 3.3 million viewers in 2022. He was the undisputed king of cable TV — and he’s likely to carry that audience wherever he goes. When Lemon had a nightly show, his peak was 1.5 million viewers during the 2020 election year. In 2022, he averaged 683,000 viewers each night.
Why the disparity? Well, for many reasons, but the main one is because the American people aren’t stupid and can smell bullcrap wherever it pops up.
So if you’re you’re an authentic guy, as anybody who was ever met Carlson says he is, then viewers will flock to your show. If you’re not, as Lemon’s colleagues describe him, then Americans will tune you out.
That authenticity was displayed as the former Fox News cable king used his show to expose the truth wherever it led. He did not shy away from taking on Republicans, Democrats, and anybody in between, whether they be in the private sector or in the government. On the other hand, Lemon used his show to carry water for his Democratic allies and attack Republicans — unless they agreed with him.
When Carlson came to a new conclusion or changed his mind based on the evidence — e.g. the Iraq war — he explained to his audience how that happened. Lemon never bothered to explain how he came to his conclusions, not that his thought process was any mystery. He simply spouted whatever the Democrat-approved talking points of the day were.
Millions tuned into Carlson’s show each night because they trusted him based on his record and wanted to understand the real story while having their perspectives challenged, not blindly reinforced. His shows, such as his January 6 content, his now classic interview with Republican Governor and 2024 presidential candidate Asa Hutchison over transgenderism, or his coverage of the BLM riots — drove the conversation. You knew you were going to get original thoughts every single night.
Lemon used his time to divide the nation based on bogus accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, and whatever other -ism the Democratic Party threw around that day. In turn, he was demoted — something he denied — to a morning show where he only made news for bickering with his co-workers and claiming that 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley was past her prime.
It wasn’t a very interesting show and he isn’t a very interesting guy.
In fact, Lemon effectively recanted what might have been the only compelling thing that he ever said on TV. In 2013, Lemon said that former Fox News primetime host Bill O’Reilly had “more than a point” regarding the breakdown of the black family in America and its contributions to social decline.
At the time, Lemon said that there were five things that black men could be doing to advance their station in life: Pulling up their pants, respecting where they live, not saying the n-word, finishing school, and putting family first.
By 2023, Lemon blamed white privilege for any inequality in society. Rather than advocating the kind of personal responsibility that he promoted in 2013, Lemon now defends BLM and blames any problems among black Americans on systemic racism.
So what Lemon really believes is unclear. What Carlson really believes has never been questioned.
So what’s the gigantic difference referenced in the title? Carlson let the truth guide his reporting and was not afraid to challenge anybody who he thought might be lying to the American people. Lemon was all too happy to let the leftist agenda drive his reporting and was afraid of going against the grain. That contrast was obvious to anybody who watched.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.