New leaked text messages reveal that Tucker Carlson and his producer plotted to threaten low-level Fox staffers “just to send a clear message” about a news report Carlson thought took “swipes” at Donald Trump.
These latest texts were leaked to The Daily Beast. Reporters Justin Baragona and Corbin Bolies write that the texts came from documents “pertaining to” the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case which has now been settled. They are part of an exchange on November 19, 2020, when Fox was panicking over their viewers’ revolt over the network’s early call of Arizona for Biden.
The texts are between Carlson and his senior executive producer, Justin Wells, who was fired when Carlson was. They reveal the pair's outrage over a Fox News digital story.
From The Daily Beast:
The Fox News digital story, written the day before Wells’ [and Carlson’s] texts, reported that Trump would proceed with the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon “despite the angst surrounding the growing number of coronavirus cases nationwide and the ongoing upheaval over President Trump’s refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden.” It added that the then-president was also “ducking reporters and sticking to Twitter tirades about the election.”
Hours later, Carlson responded by assuring his executive producer he was willing to throw his weight around to browbeat lower-level staffers back in line and into respecting the Fox audience.
“We’re not going to succeed if this continues,” the far-right star texted back. “The brand will be too damaged. We should jump on a couple of examples just to send a clear message. Let’s start with this one. Can we find out who did this?”
He added: “I’m happy to start threatening people individually. It’s too much. And again, it will hurt us badly if we let it continue.”
Wells agreed, replying that he was “going to find out who did this first” because he wanted “to be armed with more detail.” Thanking Wells, Carlson declared that “Fox needs to hire someone to make sure our ‘news’ coverage is right down the middle and fair. Like today.”
Oh, the vicious deceit and hypocrisy from a guy we now know “passionately” hated Trump in private. Yet, he's such a coward he made a big show of pretending otherwise, including a MAGA Make-Up show, i.e. a fawning interview with Trump. And oh, the irony of a guy like Carlson calling his demand for propaganda a call for “coverage … right down the middle.”
This is far from the first time charlatan Carlson has been seen cruelly throwing his weight around - or trying to – in order to bully underlings into lying in support of his lies. The Dominion briefs previously revealed that he wanted correspondent Jacqui Heinrich fired for correctly fact-checking a Trump tweet alleging a stolen election. (Heinrich is still there.) To be clear, the Dominion briefs also revealed that Carlson didn’t believe the election was stolen. He just wanted to keep the truth secret, like his hatred for Trump.
Carlson seems to have made a habit of bullying the news division. He also attacked Fox correspondent Kristin Fisher for saying that much of what Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said about the 2020 election "was simply not true or has already been thrown out in court.” Fisher's appearances declined and she was reportedly warned afterward to keep her head down. She is now at CNN.
He also interrupted a vacation to bully and berate a Fox producer who dared to tweet “white supremacy is real” after he had said otherwise. The New York Times reported that the supposed lover of free speech yelled over the phone to the producer, “Shut your mouth,” then later denied it.
More famously, Carlson pushed out anchor Shepard Smith. Smith committed the sin of calling it "repugnant" for an outside guest on Carlson's show to call a mutual Fox colleague, one who had dared to criticize Donald Trump, "a fool." Carlson attacked Smith on the air, management sided with Carlson, and Smith resigned shortly thereafter.
But wait, there’s more!
From The Daily Beast:
Toward the end of that day’s exchange, Wells brought up Fox News host Greg Gutfeld seemingly criticizing then-Fox News correspondent Kristin Fisher for fact-checking Giuliani’s press conference. “He was on fire,” Wells texted, sharing a video of Gutfeld’s on-air remarks. “And was perfect.” Carlson then reiterated that “we have to get this under control,” prompting Wells to reply that the core audience’s willingness to stick with Tucker Carlson Tonight while abandoning the rest of Fox’s lineup could give the pair leverage over the network and pay dividends down the line.
I’m not sure about those dividends now. Carlson has launched a show on Twitter (where he touted the value of free speech). But his latest target for bullying is Fox News. According to Axios, Carlson is preparing for war with Fox and has allies ready and willing to “torch” the network on his behalf. He’s “busy plotting a media empire of his own. But he needs Fox to let him out of his contract, which expires in January 2025 — after the presidential election,” Axios reported.