What does Tucker Carlson have in common with open-source software? As far as we know, absolutely nothing. When we asked Christine about this, she said, “There’s more to life than software.”
Since Monday, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas have been taking bets on all sorts of things related to the “parting of ways” between Fox News and Tucker Carlson. The Vegas angle isn’t surprising since Vegas will take bets on just about anything. The surprise was that Fox handed its most popular
liar news reporter and political pundit his walking papers.
Like many, I was totally caught off-guard by the news of Carlson’s firing. Sure, Carlson’s on-air lying ways were recently proven by Dominion in its legal action against Faux News, but he’s been being called out for disregarding the truth almost daily since 2016 when he joined the network. I figured (like practically everyone else) that Fox didn’t really care about factual reporting.
They didn’t, and they don’t, of course. They still have Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham on board, so they’re still the fake news leader.
But the firing of Carlson has been hard for me to wrap my head around. After all, Fox’s top anchor brought more than three million sets of eyeballs to Fox each night — which is like a gazillion in the modern cable news environment — which has helped keep Fox at the top of the cable news food chain by a wide margin. According to Nielsen, in March Fox News averaged 2.09 million viewers, compared to MSNBC’s 1.14 million and CNN’s 473,000. With Carlson gone, that number is likely to noticeably drop, at least temporarily, although not by nearly enough to make MSNBC a contender to become the new cable news top dog.
It’s not only Fox. Within an hour of the news from Fox, CNN announced it had ousted Don Lemon, one of its top on-air people, evidently as part of its shift to the right (the company would say, “to the center”), although it could have to do with a sexist on-air faux pas a few weeks back.
Vegas Opens Betting
With CNN evidently ready to fire people to change its image, and with some news outlets speculating that perhaps Fox isn’t through with its house cleaning yet, Vegas sat up and took note, according to the gaming website SportsBetting.ag. They’re now taking bets on which cable news pundit will be the next to go at Fox News and CNN, as well as on where Carlson is likely to land on his feet (assuming, of course, that he’s going to land on his feet).
Since odds are based on the number of bets being placed on a particular outcome (with low odds meaning lots of bets, and high odds meaning few bettors), looking at the odds gives us an interesting look at what people (at least people who bet on such things) are thinking.
We’ll start with a look at what people are thinking about where Carlson ends up.
Not surprisingly, here bettors are going with the most obvious choice, the ten-year-old ultra-right and Trump-supporting One America News Network, which is evidently available in something like 35 million homes, if the company’s claims can be believed. It’s also known as the station that once let Sarah Palin guest host one of its shows.
That might be a move that would be good for OANN, if not so good for the United States. If OANN hired Carlson and gave him a nightly show, maybe enough MEGA-hat wearers and Proud Boys living in areas not served by the network would whine their way into getting the network onto other cable systems, which would increase availability, which would probably increase eyeballs, which would, in theory, increase ad revenues. Anyway, so many folks are betting on that outcome that the odds are down to 2-1, which means a $2 payoff for every $1 bet. That’s considered to be a slow grind among professional gamblers.
The others with single-digit odds are likewise in the realm of “not unlikely.” Number two (with 3-1 odds) is Rumble, the Toronto-based online video platform, web hosting, and cloud services business that hosts Trump’s own pet project, Truth Social. The trouble here might be that Carlson might not want to be associated with an outfit headquartered in Toronto, a city with some of the strictest gun-control laws on the continent. At least it once did back in the ’70s when I lived there. After a decade of Rob and Doug Ford, those laws might have gone by the wayside.
Next is Breitbart (4-1 odds), which Wikipedia (the world’s foremost authority on nearly everything, now that Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman are no longer around) says, “has been described as misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist by academics and journalists,” as well as being “among the most widely shared political content on Facebook.” Seems like a perfect match to me.
After that, it’s Newsmax (5-1 odds), which is probably where Carlson would most like to be if Fox is no longer an option.
The Long Shots
The long shots, where bettors can make some real money, start with Netflix, Amazon Prime, ABC, CBS, and (oddly) Truth Social.
If you place a $1,000 bet on Newsmax and he ends up there, you’ll see a $5,000 payoff, meaning you’ll net $4,000 before Uncle Sam get’s his share. However, if you place that same $1,000 bet on Netflix or Amazon Prime, you’ll see a $16,000 or $20,000 return respectively. Put a grand down on ABC, CBS, or Truth Social, and the return goes up to $25,000.
I’m going to count Truth Social as the odd man out, since as far as I know Truth Social doesn’t have a video or audio platform, and I’m reasonably certain that Trump & Company isn’t going to pay Carlson to compete with him for attention on his own private Twitter, especially now that Carlson is on record as a Trump hater. Actually, Prime and (especially) Netflix make some kind of sense, unless you think about it too hard. A weekly Carlson Netflix show wouldn’t be that much different from David Letterman’s interview show, except it might drive some subscribers (like me) away from the service. ABC and CBS are totally out of bounds, I would think — but who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Even deeper into la-la land are the slightly left-of-center news site Politico, mainstream Axios, NBC/MSNBC (which has already fired him once), and CNN (which has also already given him the boot). A $1,000 bet placed on any of these would probably go into the loss column because you wouldn’t win, but if you did win you would collect $30,000 for Politico, $40,00 for Axios or NBC/MSNBC, or $50,000 for CNN.
The Vegas oddsmakers are also taking bets on who’s going to be the next to get the ax at Fox News and CNN.
For CNN, it appears most voters are thinking that Jim Acosta, who had the White House beat during the Obama and Trump administrations and who’s now an anchor and “Chief Domestic Correspondent,” will be the next to face the guillotine, probably because his ratings as an anchor have been less than stellar. The odds for Acosta being the next to go are 4-1. Bettors evidently think that the rest of the CNN air staff are relatively safe for the time being, because there’s no one else from CNN on the list with single-digit odds. Next in line after Acosta is Erin Burnett, who hosts the 7 pm hour on weeknights (25-1 odds), followed by Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper (each with 50-1 odds).
There’s a sucker bet included in this mix. Brian Stelter, the former host of “Reliable Sources” is on the list, although he left CNN on August 21. The odds are good, though, if you want to bet that they’ll fire an already gone man (30-1 odds).
Bettors seem to think that no one at Fox is safe. With 2-1 odds, the favorite to be shown to the door next is Jeanine Pirro, a former New York State judge, prosecutor, and politician who now is a co-host on “The Five,” a panel discussion show that airs weekdays at 5 pm EST. Close on her heels is Mark Levin (3-1 odds), who hosts the weekly “Life, Liberty & Levin” show on Fox, but who is better known for his syndicated daily radio show. Laura Ingraham, who makes Ann Coulter look like a Girl Scout by comparison, is next with 4-1 odds, followed by financial journalist Maria Bartiroma with 6-1 odds and Sean Hannity with 7-1 odds.
As for me, I’m not placing any bets. I have better ways to lose money.
Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux