A text message from Tucker Carlson to an employee could explain the moderator's sudden departure from US broadcaster Fox News. According to the New York Times, in the SMS that Carlson sent to one of the producers of his show "Tucker Carlson Tonight" in the hours after the Capitol was stormed on January 6, 2021, the right-wing populist reported on a video that he had recently seen . In it, a group of Trump supporters surrounded "an Antifa kid" and started beating the victim. "It was three against one, at least," quoted the US newspaper Carlson.
In the message, the TV star expressed his dismay that the attackers, like himself, were white. "Obviously jumping on a guy like that is dishonourable. It's not the way white men fight," he wrote, according to the paper. But suddenly he found himself crossing his fingers for the mob, "hoping they would hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the boy."
The end of the text was in a more forgiving tone: "Then an alarm went off somewhere deep in my head: 'This is not good for me. I'm becoming something I don't want to be,'" Carlson wrote. "I should remember that there is someone out there who loves this child and would be devastated if they were killed. If I don't care about these things, if I reduce people to their politics, then how can I be better than he?"
The Fox News board found out about the SMS on the eve of the planned multi-billion dollar Dominion trial, reports the New York Times. The voting machine manufacturer had sued Fox for spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election. The network's senior management feared that Carlson's message would become public during his questioning on the witness stand and cause significant damage to the company. Carlson and his daily evening show were also the focus of the court case.
A day later, when the trial was supposed to start, the media group and Dominion announced that they had reached an out-of-court settlement of $787.5 million in damages. The Fox board of directors also told company executives that it would hire an outside law firm to investigate Carlson's conduct, according to the New York Times.
The text message came amid a growing number of internal problems Fox had with Carlson, the US newspaper writes, citing several people familiar with the matter. This ultimately led management to conclude that the 53-year-old was more of a liability than an asset and had to be fired.
In other news reports, Carlson had made crude and sexist comments about women, including a Fox executive. And although he publicly courted Trump on his show and had his lie spread by election fraud, Carlson is said to have written about the ex-president: "I hate him passionately." Fox itself has not yet commented on the reasons for the expulsion of its ratings bringer and only announced: "We thank him for his services to the station as a moderator and before that as an employee."
According to the newspaper, the text message now published by the "New York Times" is part of blacked-out court files. Its contents were revealed in interviews with several people familiar with the defamation lawsuit against Fox. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified as the message is protected by a court order. It is still blacked out in the public files.
Sources: "New York Times", CNN