AND so, Tucker Carlson has left the building.

The right-wing Fox firebrand and author of so many conspiracy-theories has parted company with Rupert Murdoch’s TV station in the most dramatic of ways and ironically in the same week that Joe Biden quietly launched his campaign to be the Democratic candidate for the 2024 US presidential election.

Carlson was the star of the TV ­firmament and whilst his name sounds like he was a character from Bonanza, the kind of ­frontier rogue that would battle with Hoss Cartwright over rustled cattle, he was an important figurehead in the right-wing, opinion-led media in Trump’s America.

Described by Rolling Stone as “a ­kingmaker within Republican politics, ­Carlson was given all but free rein at Fox, given to say and do whatever he wanted on air without fear of retribution”.

It went on: “His ­former show Tucker Carlson Tonight ­trafficked in racism, discrimination, and conspiracies on an almost nightly basis, and has shaped a generation of ­conservative grievance politics.”

Carlson’s sacking shows that the sands have shifted beneath him. Could it be that the wily old Murdoch, who has a near perfect track record predicting winners, is already distancing himself from the ­contaminated Trump ideology?

According to CNN, ­Carlson’s ­humiliating departure came one week ­after Fox News ­settled a ­monster ­defamation lawsuit with ­Dominion ­Voting Systems for $787.5 ­million over the ­network’s ­dissemination of ­election lies and ­undermining the ­voting ­company’s ­reports as the 2020 Trump v Biden ­election unfolded into what the ­insurrectionists of Trump’s support argued was a stolen election.

As the knife twisted deeper into ­Carlson (below), he was further accused of disparaging ­colleagues and a lawsuit filed in March by his top booker, Abby Grossberg.

The National:

Lurking beneath the headlines was ­another perspective. For all its ­Trumpian bellowing, Fox News was built on a ­secure but traditional television model – cable carriage. Its customers were cable ­stations across America who profited locally from its notoriety. When it came to more ­modern and digital sources of income – particularly digital ­advertising – much of that flowed to Google or to the Meta platforms like ­Facebook and ­Instagram.

It would be virtually impossible to put the story of Carlson’s departure in a ­British context.

It was as if the lovechild of Andrew Neil and Sky’s Kay Burley had been sacked for flaming YouGov on an hourly basis, when their polling didn’t ­accord with Tory party ambitions. But even that seems like a lame comparison with the star-infused reputation that ­Carlson and his college Sean Hannity had in the USA.

In comparison with Fox News, GB News has been lame and lacking in ­substantial impact, with no stars turns just a conveyor belt of frustrated ­Brexiteers and borderline bigots.

We are fortunate in that the BBC’s ­values, even those not always adhered to, tend to militate against polemical hosts braying to camera. In fact, the BBC’s main direct-to-camera journalist Ros ­Atkins is now something of a ­phenomenon on air, reaching back to the BBC’s “mission to explain’ by tackling complex subjects with data, context and scrupulous balance.

However, the BBC does face a ­significant challenge to the authority of its news and current affairs output, and this ­is neither the impartiality guidelines issued from on high or the corporation’s ­resistance to fair coverage of the independence ­debate, but what can only be described as a ­creeping populism, which risks undermining the BBC’s seriousness of purpose.

Ironically, another television departure coincided with Carlson’s hasty exit from Fox News, the British presenter of The Late Late Show James Corden left the show and has returned to the UK.

The way that Corden’s departure from America was covered on BBC Breakfast tells us much about the current state of popular media engulfed as it is with celebrity and light entertainment.

Inevitably, the item was built around an extract from Corden’s execrable ­Carpool Karaoke when he shares a duet with pop singer in the front seat of a car. In this ­latest episode he is with the singer Adele, who for reasons lost in time we have been culturally bullied into believing is a vocal genius.

There’s is no doubt some people enjoy the Carpool Karaoke idea, but I would be lying if I included myself in their ­number. It is astonishingly smug and brings out the very worst of Corden’s shouty ­personality.

He is a man who falls between every ­imaginable stool, neither a talented ­actor, nor a compelling TV host and ­certainly not a good stand-up ­comedian. The ­mystique in his career thus far is how it has reached the heights it has.

At the end of his tortured posturing with Adele, the item returned to the BBC studio where the presenter Sally Nugent greeted the video with the word “wowser”. Perhaps more than balance, ­impartiality and the value of the licence fee it is the word “wowser” that poses the ­greatest threat to the BBC’s credibility as a news operation.

THIS lurch towards populism and ­celebrity-infested stories has turned the morning services on network BBC into an unchallenging reservoir of safeness.

The death of veteran ballroom dancer Len Goodman had all the ­characteristics of a story that BBC’s light ­entertainment news relishes: a celebrity death, an ­already well-known popular brand, a BBC hit that can be tortuously clipped and worst of all an aching ­sentimentality that glibly remembers the dead.

Arlene Philips told the show that “everyone loved Len and he loved everyone”.

As an obituary it brought new depths to shallowness.

My concern about this obsession with celebrity and light entertainment exposes the fear and sensitivity that runs through the BBC’s daily news operations.

You suspect that day-part editors and item producers are happy to steer well clear of the tricky controversies of Brexit, corruption at the heart of the ­Conservative party, Scottish constitutionalism and the so-called Windsor Framework defining Northern Ireland’s relationship with the South and so Europe. Better to stoke up an item on a celebrity leading a social welfare campaign than ­interrogate poverty under the current government.

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Generalisations are unhelpful but amidst the BBC’s formidable coverage of the war in Ukraine and the evacuation from Sudan are too many populist-leaning stories that strain after significance – currently a copyrights trial involving Ed Sheeran, the Eurovision Song Contest, the death of Jerry Springer and Corden’s retreat from America occupy more space online than numerous more serious and worthwhile subjects.

At the core of all of this is the ­licence fee and its viability in the future. ­Often the BBC imagines that celebrity ­content will attract or retain a younger ­audience, but the unintended impact is to ­undermine or compromise the deeper news and ­commentary that has given the ­corporation its global respect.

It is a challenge that the chairman of the BBC needs to understand and ­address, but lord only knows when such a ­character will emerge. Now is not the time to lose leadership which is why the appointment of Richard Sharp and his humiliating resignation has been such a distraction.