Tucker Carlson’s unexpected dismissal from Fox News on Monday shocked the TV news industry. The manner in which it was done seemed abrupt. In a statement sent to media, Fox News Media did not give a detailed reason for Carlson’s exit. The network also did not grant him the opportunity to host a farewell show, which seems a bit surprising considering Carlson had for years been a top-tier star at the network hauling in millions of devoted viewers each night.
Initial assumptions for his dismissal were that it was directly tied to Fox News and Fox Corp’s $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. But, as more post-mortem analysis comes to light, a better understanding of how Fox News got to this decision begins to surface.
The outcome of the defamation case did not directly play a role, but its findings may have.
The Wall Street Journal published a lengthy piece on Tuesday evening. The news outlet reports that during the pretrial period of the Dominion defamation case, the friction between Carlson and the Fox News c-suite had come to light courtesy of legal filings containing email and text messages between the parties.
In one example, Carlson revealed his disdain towards an unnamed senior Fox News executive by using a vulgar term to describe her.
Fox News attorneys managed to get the message redacted, intending to protect Carlson, but he was particularly unhappy with that move as he seemingly wanted the world to know what he thought of her.
“Mr. Carlson, Fox News’s most-watched prime-time host, wasn’t impressed. He told his colleagues that he wanted the world to know what he had said about the executive in a private message, the people said,” WSJ wrote.
According to the report, Carlson also turned his ire towards the Fox News communications department, which he felt did not shield him enough from the negative press coverage he received due to the Dominion case.
The situation had gotten so bad that a former Trump aide, Raj Shah, was brought in as a go-between between the two sides.
The success of Carlson’s primetime show, coupled with his close relationship with the Murdochs, created an aura of untouchability that went unchecked and became difficult to manage.
Carlson believing in his invincibility, weaponized it against his Fox News colleagues, which also led to him being named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed on March 20 by Abby Grossberg, a former top booker on his show and previously for Fox News/Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo.
Grossberg alleges they ran “a work environment that subjugates women based on vile sexist stereotypes.” She accused two senior producers on the show of making antisemitic remarks, and she also alleged that lawyers for Fox News coached her to make false testimony during her deposition in the Dominion lawsuit.
“Fox News Media engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review,” Fox News said in a statement.
“Abby Grossberg’s allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless, and she had no bearing on the settlement. We will vigorously defend Fox against all of her unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees.”
Grossberg was subsequently fired from Fox News after filing that lawsuit.
The mounting evidence that was building up against Carlson and that came to public light during the pretrial phase of the Dominion case was enough for network executives to expel him despite his popularity within the Fox News viewer universe.
What is next to come is still unknown; according to Rolling Stone, Fox News has a secret ‘oppo file’ on Carlson should he decide to retaliate against the network (Fox strongly denied this particular allegation).
With him retaining Bryan Freedman, a top Hollywood attorney who has helped prior clients reach multimillion-dollar settlements, things could get messy.