Tucker Carlson, the highest-rated cable news host in history, was taken off the air in late April. Now, new information sheds light on who made the final decision to cut ties with Carlson.
A new report reveals that Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corporation, and Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, decided to fire Carlson.
“The power that Mr. Carlson, 53, wielded outside Fox News could not insulate him from a growing list of troubles inside the network related to his conduct on and off the air, some of which had been grating on Mr. Murdoch and his father, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, who co-founded the network in 1996, according to the two people with knowledge of the company’s decision,” it was reported.
“The host, a polarizing and unpopular figure at the network outside of his own staff, was exposed as part of a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems as a bully who denigrated colleagues and sources, often in profane and sexist language and called for the firing of Fox journalists whose coverage he disliked. He has also drawn condemnation from the right and left for his role in fostering a revisionist account of the assault on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” the outlet added.
As the network deals with the fallout, another report broke over the weekend suggesting that more big names at Fox News may be gone.
Variety reported that a handful of current Fox News talent are contemplating throwing in with whatever project former top-rated host Tucker Carlson may be working on, which could include programming that would be broadcast on Twitter.
The report comes after Carlson strongly hinted earlier this month in a video posted to the platform that he was preparing to air a program live on Twitter.
“Carlson’s Twitter move could have additional reverberations with talent at the network. A handful of Fox anchors have reached out to Carlson directly or had their surrogates contact him to say they are eager to join whatever venture he starts on Twitter when their contracts are up, according to sources,” Variety reported.
Carlson currently remains under contract with Fox News at a reported $20 million a year, so he isn’t free to sign on with another network. Reports said his contract doesn’t expire until after the 2024 election, in January 2025.
Variety also reported that Carlson was taken off the air as a condition of Fox’s recent defamation settlement:
On April 26, Carlson spoke by phone with one of Fox Corp.’s eight board members, who told the host that his recent benching was a condition of Fox News’ settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the conversation.
The unnamed board member told Carlson that the condition does not appear in any of the settlement’s documents, and instead was a verbal agreement. If Fox didn’t comply, the settlement was off, Carlson was told. Dominion had plenty of leverage given that the $787.5 million deal to settle Dominion’s defamation suit against the network wouldn’t officially close until late May.
The outlet went on to report that while Dominion’s defamation claims rested mostly on accusations aired post-2020 election on programs hosted by Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and Maria Bartiromo, the company wanted to hurt Fox and, as such, chose to press the network into cutting ties with its most popular talent: Carlson.
“That condition was intended to hurt Fox, and Tucker is just collateral damage,” a source familiar with the matter told Variety. “Dominion wanted to punish Fox, and it’s working.”
Both Fox and Dominion have denied that Carlson’s dismissal was part of the settlement agreement.
According to sources close to him, Carlson is reportedly considering the possibility of creating his own direct-to-consumer media platform, where his large fan base could pay to watch him. The model was previously used by Carlson’s predecessor on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, who is currently hosting a show during Carlson’s old timeslot for The First TV, which recently became available on DirecTV.