Wolff seems to have duly jotted down Tucker Carlson’s unverified theory about why he was fired from Fox News and given it undue credence.
A lengthy excerpt from Michael Wolff’s new book, “The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty,” is excerpted in the September 20 New York Magazine’s Intelligencer. There are some juicy tidbits that I do believe, which I will go into later. But that is not the case for Wolff’s claims about “How Rupert Murdoch Decided to Dump Tucker Carlson,” as the Intelligencer article is titled.
Wolff paints Rupert Murdoch as someone who likes Carlson personally but was finding him almost more trouble than he was worth. Murdoch was, as Wolff put it, “being lambasted by his children, his wife, their friends, and anybody he met in reasonably good company” about Carlson’s poisonous rhetoric. Also, Murdoch was reportedly bothered by reports that Carlson might run for president.
Not mentioned in the excerpt is that advertisers were also avoiding ad buys on Carlson.
But Wolff suggests Murdoch fired Carlson as a sweetener in the Dominion defamation suit settlement, as a way to avoid meeting Dominion’s $1 billion settlement demand. Wolff claims that Murdoch originally offered Sean Hannity, whom Murdoch reportedly hates (which I can believe), as the sweetener, as a “gentleman’s agreement.” There would be no written agreement but Wolff claims that didn’t matter: “[P]ractically speaking, after a settlement is reached, the parties have a period of time, often up to a week, to file with the court. Technically, a settlement could come apart in that time if anticipated conditions or actions — for example, a gentleman’s agreement — were not honored.”
I find it hard to believe a settlement could come apart based on a non-written agreement of such magnitude but I’ll go along for the sake of argument.
From the excerpt:
Hannity had been offered as a sweetener. But Carlson, the ratings leader, increasingly the real, hard-core face of the new demagogic right wing, was sweeter. He won’t go to a billion. He just won’t. Not going to happen. It’s Rupert. You know Rupert and money, when he digs in. So that’s it. We’re here.
Seven hundred and eighty-seven million dollars. There it is. Far and away the largest defamation award ever made, outside of Alex Jones — and Jones isn’t good for it and we are. And while we’re not making this a part of anything — he can’t live with that — we do understand what you want and things will happen. It will happen by the end of the week. It will be done.
Can you live with that? Can you live with $787 million … and Carlson?
Wolff doesn’t explicitly say in the excerpt that Carlson was fired as part of a handshake deal to settle the Dominion lawsuit. And that’s probably because he doesn’t know that to be the case.
Here’s why I think it's a load of hooey:
For one thing, Tucker Carlson was not the major purveyor of Dominion smears on Fox. For another, I don’t see why Dominion would care if Carlson was fired. The $787.5 million settlement was quite ample. It was “nearly 10 times the company’s valuation from 2018, and roughly eight times its annual revenue in 2021, according to court filings,” CNN noted. More importantly, the settlement terms did not include either an on-air apology or retraction of Fox’s smears. Either of those two things would be worth way more to Dominion than Carlson’s firing for an undisclosed reason.
In fact, Dominion has denied that Carlson’s firing was part of the settlement. So has Fox News. Both those denials are in a July, 26, 2023 Guardian article about Chadwick Moore’s biography of Tucker Carlson. It turns out Moore and Carlson promoted this theory two months ago:
Tucker Carlson “knows” he was fired by Fox News in April as a condition of the $787.5m settlement with Dominion Voting Systems regarding the broadcast of Donald Trump’s lie about election fraud, the former host says in a new book.
“They agreed to take me off the air, my show off the air, as a condition of the Dominion settlement,” Carlson tells his biographer, Chadwick Moore. “They had to settle this; Rupert [Murdoch, the 92-year-old Fox News owner] couldn’t testify. I think that deal was made minutes before the trial started.
“I mean, I know it was.”
I have said all along that Carlson was almost certainly fired for financial reasons. My theory is that Fox found some texts or other evidence that would be very damaging in the Ray Epps defamation suit, which was very much pending at the time Carlson was fired. Which doesn't mean that Rupert Murdoch and others were not happy to see Carlson go.
Oh, and by the way? Carlson has more recently blamed “fearful women” running Fox for his termination, though he was still “not exactly sure” why.
But before I go, here are a few, more believable juicy tidbits from Wolff’s excerpt: Carlson claims he is not antisemitic nor anti-Black but that he is anti-Catholic. Also, that after Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld were given their recent prime time slots, “an unconvinced Murdoch” asked people, “Do you think they’re funny?”
Then there is the story about the DeSantises lunching at the Carlsons’ home and put to the “Susie Carlson test,” i.e. the test of Tucker Carlson’s wife.
[The DeSantises] failed it miserably. They had a total inability to read the room — one with a genteel, stay-at-home woman, here in her own house. For two hours, Ron DeSantis sat at her table talking in an outdoor voice indoors, failing to observe any basics of conversational ritual or propriety, reeling off an unself-conscious list of his programs and initiatives and political accomplishments. Impersonal, cold, uninterested in anything outside of himself. The Carlsons are dog people with four spaniels, the progeny of other spaniels they have had before, who sleep in their bed. DeSantis pushed the dog under the table. Had he kicked the dog? Susie Carlson’s judgment was clear: She did not ever want to be anywhere near anybody like that ever again. Her husband agreed. DeSantis, in Carlson’s view, was a “fascist.” Forget Ron DeSantis.
Again, this seems to be nothing more than a transcription of Tucker Carlson’s version of the anecdote. We all know - and Wolff should know - that Carlson is a big liar.