Despite successfully arguing to a judge that Tucker Carlson is not a trustworthy news source, Fox News is telling viewers it plans “more reporting and analysis” from him “across other parts of the company.”
In the middle of his show last night, Carlson made a pre-scripted (and thus pre-approved) announcement, as a banner on the lower third of the screen read, “Standing Up For What’s Right.” That seems to be Fox’s new slogan, an obvious effort to counteract the ultra-right-wing displeasure at the network for calling Arizona early and the presidential election for Biden and only promoting the lies about a “stolen election” part time.
The announcement was also an obvious effort to quash any speculation that Tucker Carlson will be jumping ship to an even more Trump-worshiping outlet.
CARLSON: Before we get to the next segment, a quick note about this show. Over the weekend, we got a lot of calls asking if we're leaving Fox News. Ironically, at that very moment, we were working on a project to expand the amount of reporting and analysis we do in this hour across other parts of the company. This show's not going anywhere. It's getting bigger. The people who run Fox News want more of it, not less, and we are grateful for that. We’ll have specifics soon. But as always, thank you for your trust in us, we’ll do our best to be worthy of it.
You may recall that in June, Fox argued in federal court that a libel lawsuit against the network by former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who has said she had an affair with Trump, should be tossed out because nobody should believe what Carlson says. From The Hollywood Reporter:
McDougal claims Carlson defamed her and accused her of a crime in a segment that also discussed Stormy Daniels. Here's what Carlson said that she takes issue with: "Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn't give them money. Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion."
To complicate matters, he also earlier in the broadcast said that he was recapping the "gist" of a New York Times story and assuming "for the sake of argument" that things ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had said were true while noting it wasn't wise to make such an assumption, but he also stated, "Remember the facts of the story; these are undisputed."
Fox News wants U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil to toss the complaint, arguing both that nothing Carlson said is defamatory because it can't be interpreted as stating actual facts and that McDougal can't prove he acted with actual malice, which she must to succeed on her claims because she's a public figure.
Fox News' attorney Erin Murphy argued that Carlson repeatedly couched his statements as hypotheticals to promote conversation and that a reasonable viewer would know his show offers "provocative things that will help me think harder," as opposed to straight news.
Indeed, the Trump-appointed judge dismissed the lawsuit on those very grounds. Or, as the judge put it, viewers should know that Carlson is “not stating actual facts” but engages in “exaggeration” and “non-literal commentary” and that “any reasonable viewer” watches his show “with an appropriate amount of skepticism.”
But less than six months later, Carlson is not only a truth teller but a “reporter” and “analyst.”
Or is this just another example of what Fox considers “provocative things that will help me think harder?”
One question this raises in my mind: Is Sean Hannity or any of his fellow Trump toadies planning an exit?
You can watch Carlson’s announcement below, from the November 16, 2020 Tucker Carlson Tonight.