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Two Fox News commentators quit over Tucker Carlson’s ‘irresponsible’ Capitol insurrection special

Jonah Golberg called Carlson’s special on the Capitol riots “a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering” that could provoke more violence.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson.Read moreChip Somodevilla / MCT

Two longtime Fox News contributors have resigned in protest over Tucker Carlson’s recent special on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which they described as “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”

Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, founders of the conservative website The Dispatch, had been contributors at the network since 2009, a lucrative and highly-coveted position inside the world of Republican politics. But on Sunday night, the pair penned a public resignation letter that set out their reasons for leaving the network.

Here’s what the pair wrote about Carlson’s special, which premiered on the network’s streaming platform Fox Nation earlier this month and promoted the false conspiracy theory that federal agents — and not Trump supporters looking to delay or prevent the certification of the presidential election — incited the riot at the Capitol earlier this year:

“The special—which ran on Fox’s subscription streaming service earlier this month and was promoted on Fox News—is presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions. And its message is clear: The U.S. government is targeting patriotic Americans in the same manner —and with the same tools—that it used to target al Qaeda.”

Fox News has tried to distance itself from the special, which they have pointed out didn’t air on its network. But Carlson has been allowed to promote it on his popular Fox News show and on the network’s morning show, Fox & Friends.

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Carlson also could not be reached, but told NPR Goldberg and Hayes’ departure “will substantially improve the channel.”

According to NPR’s David Folkenflik, senior journalists at Fox News — including Special Report anchor Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace — were also concerned enough about the special to share their objections with Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace, the network’s president of news.

“Fox News still does real reporting, and there are still responsible conservatives providing valuable opinion and analysis,” Goldberg and Hayes wrote in their joint letter. “But the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible.”

It’s unclear when the last time either Goldberg or Hayes appeared on Fox News. They both had basically been sidelined as Fox News’ opinion shows doubled-down on their pro-Trump strance behind the popularity of Carlson and Sean Hannity, a longtime ally of the former president who advised him while in the White House.

The network has hired a number of former Trump officials this year, including former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s former director of the National Economic Council, hosts his own show on Fox Business. The network even hired Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as a paid contributor, and while he’s not yet on the Fox News payroll, former Trump adviser Stephen Miller is a regular commentator on network’s opinion shows.

In an interview with the New York Times, Goldberg said he remained at Fox News for as long as he did because he was assured the network would pull away from its allegiance to Trump and return to its former position as a conservative alternative to other news networks. But Carlson’s special 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,” Goldberg told the Times.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who has been ostracized by her party for her involvement in the Congressional investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection, praised Goldberg and Hayes for their public rebuke of the network and Carlson’s special. She thanked them on Twitter “for standing up for truth and calling out dangerous lies.”