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Tucker Carlson. Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images for Politicon

Fox News has enjoyed record ratings over the past two years, but its close ties to the president and its commitment to right-wing opinion coverage is putting the network on the brink.

Driving the news: A series of damning reports over the past week has forced Fox News to issue statements addressing its values and judgment as a news company.

On Sunday, Media Matters of America, a progressive think-tank, released audio recordings of primetime host Tucker Carlson referring to women in derogatory terms years ago. It also released audio in which Carlson used racist and homophobic language.

  • Activists are now calling for Fox News boycotts and protests outside of the company's New York City headquarters.
  • Carlson put out a statement acknowledging the comments and said, “Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

Other drama: On Saturday, Fox News issued a statement condemning the comments of host Jeanine Pirro, after she said that Rep. Ilhan Omar's use of a hijab was antithetical to the U.S. Constitution.

  • Last week, The New Yorker published an in-depth report calling out Fox's cozy ties to the White House and ways that it impairs the network's editorial independence.
  • Days later, the Democratic National Committee said it wouldn't be working with the network on any debates for the upcoming presidential election.

Why it matters: History shows that these scandals likely won't impact Fox's ratings or popularity among loyal conservative viewers. But they do make it harder for the network to land certain interviews and partnerships that could drive lucrative programming opportunities, like debates.

  • A Media Matters spokesperson also told CNN Monday that the group plans to release more audio clips this week, ahead of an event for advertisers at the Fox studios on Wednesday.
  • "We certainly want to make sure [the new audio tapes] are released when they can be most helpful to the media buying decision-makers," the Media Matters spokesperson said in an email to CNN.

Be smart: Despite Fox's reputation as a megaphone for the White House, it does employ credible journalists that want to do good work and may not feel empowered to do so if Fox doesn’t address these issues.

The big picture: Last week's series of critical reports shows how difficult it is for the network to balance news programming with opinion personalities whose actions and words draw high ratings, but are often at odds with the professed mission of the network.

Go deeper

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.