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Two Fox News contributors resign over former La Jolla resident’s documentary

Former La Jolla resident Tucker Carlson poses on a set at Fox News.
Former La Jolla resident Tucker Carlson poses on a set at Fox News.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Nov. 23. I’m Justin Ray.

Two longtime Fox News contributors recently resigned over a controversial documentary by a former La Jolla resident.

Jonah Goldberg, who also contributes a weekly column to the Los Angeles Times’ opinion pages, resigned along with Stephen Hayes. The pair wrote on their Substack site that they left because “the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible” opinion hosts at the cable news network.

They pointed to “Patriot Purge,” a three-part series by Tucker Carlson, who was born in San Francisco and raised in the seaside San Diego neighborhood. The series claims — among other things — that the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol was escalated with the involvement of the FBI.

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There is no evidence of any such involvement by the agency, a fact that has been reported by journalists at Fox News.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Carlson called the resignations “great news” and added that “our viewers will be grateful.” On Monday, Jonah Goldberg didn’t hold back when discussing his resignation in a Los Angeles Times column, calling the documentary “a perfect example of propaganda that weaves half-truths into a whole lie.”

The series isn’t the only reason Carlson has sparked outrage. On Monday, the Fox News host aired a conversation with Kyle Rittenhouse, who was recently acquitted on murder charges after killing two men and wounding another in Kenosha last year. Previous controversial moments on his prime-time Fox News program have led to an exodus of major sponsors.

Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson is the son of Dick Carlson, a wealthy media executive who used to direct Voice of America. When Tucker was 10, Dick married Patricia Swanson of the Swanson frozen dinner fortune.

When he was 22, Dick Carlson worked as a “copy boy” for the L.A. Times, he told C-SPAN. As a television newsman, he won many prestigious awards, including Emmys and a Peabody. The elder Carlson unsuccessfully ran for mayor of San Diego in 1984. He also played a role in outing transgender tennis player Renee Richards.

Dick Carlson influenced his son’s decision to pursue a career in media. As reported by Columbia Journalism Review (my former employer), Tucker Carlson applied to the CIA, but his application was denied, so he became a journalist.

“You should consider journalism,” his father told him, according to CJR. “They’ll take anybody.”

How did Tucker Carlson become Tucker Carlson? There’s a lot more to know.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

L.A. STORIES

How a high-living thief reaped millions from a Coachella resort she never built. Serena Shi’s taste for luxury seemed insatiable. She spent $133,000 on clothes at Valentino. Her two Mercedes-Benzes — a sports car and an SUV — cost $294,000. She recently admitted in a Los Angeles federal courtroom that she’d duped scores of investors in China into making down payments on condos in California. They thought they were buying units in a trendy resort that Shi was supposedly building on a 47-acre patch of desert in Coachella. Shi collected $23 million, but the project never broke ground. Los Angeles Times

Serena Shi makes a sales presentation in Beijing for condos at her proposed Coachella resort in November 2015.
(James D. Clark)

Earlier this month, José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles archbishop, gave a speech to a Catholic conference in Spain about “woke” culture and social justice movements. He called such movements “profoundly atheistic ... pseudo religions” pushed on the world by an “elite leadership class” that’s using the media to eradicate Christianity. The Times’ Gustavo Arellano writes: “As a Catholic myself who has covered a generation of church leaders who covered up pedophile priests, I’ve been waiting for a local prophetic voice in my faith who can follow the lead of Pope Francis and inveigh against the rising inequities of our times. Instead, we have Archbishop Gomez.” Los Angeles Times

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Latino, Asian American, LGBTQ activists want to help shape California’s congressional maps. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by voters to end partisan gerrymandering, is in the midst of marathon public meetings, taking hours of public testimony from elected officials, advocacy organizations and residents. Minority groups argue the commission’s draft maps, approved earlier this month, fail because they disenfranchise marginalized communities. “Our goal is fair maps, and fair maps mean we must follow the process that is before us, that we do it in a transparent manner and the public is meaningfully engaged and has an opportunity to influence the maps and line drawing in a public manner,” said Pedro Toledo, a member of the commission. “Not everyone is going to be happy.” Los Angeles Times

CRIME AND COURTS

A man in Santa Cruz County who was arrested last year pleaded guilty to a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter after the man he punched outside a fast-food restaurant died. Jose Figueroa Gonzalez, 31, on Thursday accepted blame for the Dec. 2 encounter that left a 43-year-old man dead. At the time, Watsonville police said video surveillance from the area showed Gonzalez punching the victim once in the head and leaving him unconscious on the ground. The department qualified the incident as a “random act of violence” on social media. The Mercury News

Police are looking for dozens of suspects after a series of brazen thefts Friday and Saturday in the Bay Area that targeted high-end retailers in large-scale smash-and-grab robberies. Walnut Creek police said Sunday that three people were arrested, including one who was in possession of a firearm, after an organized theft involving approximately 80 people at a Nordstrom store in the city’s downtown area shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday. Videos posted to social media showed some of the suspects fleeing the scene in cars parked outside the store. In October, drugstore chain Walgreens announced it would close stores in San Francisco over retail theft, though city leaders questioned the veracity of the company’s stated motivations. Los Angeles Times

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Colorado’s COVID-19 surge is an urgent warning for California. California is entering the holiday season with an uncertain outlook. New weekly coronavirus cases have become stable and the vaccination rate is higher than many other states. However, deteriorating conditions in Colorado offer a cautionary tale of how things can go south quickly, even in a state where many residents are vaccinated. Colorado “may be a precursor to what we could see ultimately here in California as things get cooler for us,” UCLA epidemiologist Dr. Robert Kim-Farley said. Los Angeles Times

An RN gives the the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in Los Angeles, CA.
A registered nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccination in Los Angeles.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

How common are bird strikes at airports? A bird strike during departure recently forced a plane to make an emergency landing at the Sacramento International Airport. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, bird (and other wildlife) strikes are actually very common. So far in 2021, the Sacramento airport has seen 74 bird and wildlife strikes, according to KCRA. By comparison, San Jose has seen 46, Oakland has 48 and San Francisco International reported 62, according to numbers from the FAA. The TV station has an interactive graphic explaining the incidents. KCRA

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Money — a lot of it — fell from an armored truck and littered the freeway in Carlsbad, and several drivers pulled over and started scooping it up. Cash covered the northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway near Cannon Road starting just before 9:15 a.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bettencourt said. “For whatever reason, money was falling out of an armored car,” Bettencourt said. “It was free-floating bills all over the freeway.” The money fluttering across the lanes were primarily $1s and $20s, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Students at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside have gone undefeated this season. The players and coaches rely on American Sign Language to communicate. The Cubs Varsity football team was 11-0 this season and now has won the division championship game. They are one win away from the championship. “It’s inspiring for the deaf community, quite honestly. 11 and 0, we’ve never experienced this being this far in playoffs,” coach Keith Adams told ABC News. “The community is so excited, the morale has been uplifted, the self-esteem of our players -- you can see a major difference.” ABC News

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: 73 San Diego: 69 San Francisco: 62 San Jose: 65 Fresno: 65 Sacramento: Hear the story of “klepto kitty.” 63

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory is from Jim Colton:

I moved from Minnesota to California in June of 1967. I drove across country in my ’63 Bonneville convertible donning my “California” clothes that I bought for the trip — mostly Bermuda shorts and T-shirts. All was well all the way to LA. Then I headed for my ultimate destination of San Francisco. On June 19, 1967, I arrived there in my Bermuda shorts and T-shirt. When I got out of the car it was foggy and 45 degrees. This was not California Dreamin’ — this was reality. What a physical and psychological shock!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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