The more Fox News seems determined to make us think Tucker Carlson was fired for his racism and misogyny the worse I think the real reason was.
Was the Fox board really so shocked by Carlson’s comments about white men being morally superior fighters?
As I wrote in my previous post, The New York Times recently published the contents of what had been a retracted Tucker text from the now-settled Dominion defamation case. The New York Times says the text sent Fox into a panic and “contributed to a chain of events that ultimately led to Tucker Carlson’s firing.” Here’s the text:
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I’m sure I’d hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?
Yes, this text may have contributed to Fox wanting to be rid of Carlson and it probably contributed to Fox’s decision to settle the Dominion lawsuit but fire their top star whose stock-in-trade is incendiary white power? No way!
The New York Times carefully avoids validating the Fox-leaked PR
The leaked text is almost certainly from Fox News. But The Times’ carefully parsed description of its impact leaves plenty of room for other reasons Carlson was fired. The bold highlights are mine:
The text alarmed the Fox board, which saw the message a day before Fox was set to defend itself against Dominion Voting Systems before a jury. The board grew concerned that the message could become public at trial when Mr. Carlson was on the stand, creating a sensational and damaging moment that would raise broader questions about the company.
The day after the discovery, the board told Fox executives it was bringing in an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into Mr. Carlson’s conduct.
The text message added to a growing number of internal issues involving Mr. Carlson that led the company’s leadership to conclude he was more of a problem than an asset and had to go, according to several people with knowledge of the decision. In other messages he had referred to women — including a senior Fox executive — in crude and misogynistic terms. The message about the fight also played a role in the company’s decision to settle with Dominion for $787.5 million, the highest known payout in a defamation case.
The narrative suggests that the text led to the investigation into Carlson but doesn’t actually say so. In fact, there was a day in between the discovery of the text and the board’s decision. Sure, it could have taken a day of deliberation to initiate the investigation but it strains credulity to think that the board was so unaware of Carlson’s on-air racism that it needed an outside investigation to unearth what he blatantly displayed to anyone tuning in on an 8 PM ET weeknight.
Furthermore, The Times goes on to acknowledge that the text was just one of “a growing number of internal issues involving Mr. Carlson” that led the network to believe it had to be rid of him.
The real bombshell in Tucker Carlson’s text
Aidan McLaughlin, editor in chief of Mediaite, made a good point about what was hiding in plain sight in the text:
Amidst the mania over the text, I think its context is being overlooked, and that context is the most shocking part of this new revelation: Carlson’s comment was about Donald Trump.
The comment came during a conversation with his producer, the day of the Jan. 6 attack, in which both express horror about how Trump turns people to violence. (While the time stamp of the exhibit says Jan. 7, the exchange actually happened on Jan. 6).
The unredacted Tucker text was part of the exchange in which he, now famously, called Donald Trump “a demonic force, a destroyer.” More importantly, the full exchange, which you can read via The New York Times, blames Trump for the January 6 violence. It begins with these texts from an unknown writer or writers. The bold highlights are mine:
First text, from an unknown writer:
Well to explain what things mean it would require explaining why people think the election was stolen. I get that we have to thread the needle, and we have an audience with certain beliefs. So it's tough. It's just frustrating. It's impossible to accurately explain today's events without mentioning the president and the lies. Not just the lies about the fraud, but maybe more importantly, the lies about giving people hope. As Charlie and I said in the group chat the other day, countless people ask us if Trump can still pull this off. It's a shame so many think that.
Second text, from an unknown writer:
People were enraged today because they thought Mike Pence would save the day.
Nowhere in the exchange does Carlson or anyone else put forth the theory that the insurrection was caused by an FBI plant. Yet Carlson went on to repeatedly and baselessly suggest that a man named Ray Epps, a member of the Oath Keepers who was at the Capitol on January 6th, was an FBI plant. I wrote about this in a previous post titled, “Why Was Tucker Carlson Fired? It Has To Be The Money, Stupid.” Specifically, I laid out the reasons I think it’s the money involved in the recently-threatened lawsuit by Epps.
My belief was bolstered by comments from former Carlson producer Abby Grossberg, who is now suing Fox and reportedly has 90 tapes to back up her claims of a toxic workplace. In her interview with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC last week, Grossberg talked about how Carlson and his staff were dead set on her finding a January 6th participant who was really a member of the FBI, despite a total lack of evidence. I'll bet there was more evidence of Carlson's dishonest efforts to blame Epps. Naturally, Fox would prefer we all think it was Carlson's racism and/or misogyny that got him fired.
I rest my case.
You can watch Grossberg’s April 25, 2023 interview on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House below.
(Carlson image via screen grab)
I also think he made too many enemies inside Fox and in powerful Republican circles.
And finally they could not control Carlson at all. I believe they were afraid of the power they had given him, and what he would try to do next.