Black Monday: Inside the Carlson-Lemon Double Shocker

Photos: Janos Kummer/Getty Images & Jesse Grant/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
April 24, 2023

On Monday morning, denizens of the provincial hinterlands of the American media industry were still gleefully picking over the entrails of the stunning news that Jeff Shell, the C.E.O. of NBCUniversal, had been ousted for an inappropriate relationship with his colleague Hadley Gamble, an overseas correspondent for CNBC. As my Puck partner Matt Belloni noted, it was a stunning revelation that seemed to foreshadow so many derivative decisions—the future of NBCU and the future of a hypothetical NBC-WBD tie up, among them. 

But then, in lightning fast succession, came the news that Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon had been defenestrated from their posts at Fox News and CNN, respectively, remaking the cable landscape, entirely, and rendering Shell’s adultery a mundane secondary plot on a Bravo show. In truth, both the Lemon and Carlson ousters are interesting and unique in their own right, though each demonstrated a fair amount of volte-face, and they certainly demonstrated how power is wielded at their organizations. 

Last Friday night, Fox Corp. C.E.O. Lachlan Murdoch called Suzanne Scott, the head of Fox News, to set in motion a plan to terminate Carlson, the conservative network’s most popular star. The stunning decision, which Tucker would not learn about until just a few minutes before the news went public, on Monday morning, was made with his father Rupert’s blessing.