Since Tucker Carlson was unceremoniously ousted from Fox News in late April, there’s been a relative calm before the storm. Well, the storm is now on the horizon, and the former top-rated cable host is getting ready to go to war with the embattled network.
According to Axios, Carlson is seeking to get out of his contract, which locks him in through January 2025, so that he can build his own media empire. To accomplish that, he’s going to make the lives of Fox News’ executives absolutely miserable.
Tucker Carlson is preparing to unleash allies to attack Fox News in an effort to bully the network into letting him work for — or start — a right-wing rival, sources close to him tell Axios.
Bryan Freedman, the high-powered Hollywood lawyer Carlson retained for the contract dispute, told Axios: “The idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.”
Why it matters: Tucker vs. Fox could reshape the conservative news world. Fox, which has seen its ratings plunge in Carlson’s slot since he was let go 13 days ago, wants to sideline him by paying him $20 million a year not to work.
The intrigue: Axios has learned Carlson is 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.
If the suits at Fox News thought Carlson was going to go quietly, they miscalculated, and that’s really what I take from this. Did no one speak up in the meetings that certainly took place prior to Carlson’s firing and suggest that some kind of risk analysis be done? I mean, did those behind the decision not pause for even a moment and consider how all this would play out? Did they really think they could boot the most popular, influential conservative commentator in recent history and face no unintended consequences?
Think about how bad this has gone for Fox News. First, they lost their biggest draw, which in and of itself was a major flub. But losing Carlson has also spilled over into the rest of the primetime lineup, with ratings being dramatically down across the board. Then you’ve got the overall damage to the Fox News brand to deal with as conservatives thumb their noses at the network. And to make matters worse, Carlson is now going to set the place on fire in an attempt to gain his autonomy.
Fox News is absorbing all that and for what, exactly? Reportedly, they fired Carlson over a mundane text message in which he made an extremely mild racial comment (about how “white men” fight) that he immediately reversed on in the same text. So Fox News destroyed itself, at least in the short term, to save the network from a few days of Media Matters gnashing its teeth? Does that seem like a good trade-off?
This is going to go down as one of the biggest media mistakes in history. Even if Fox News felt it needed to part ways with Carlson, it would have been much smarter to wait until his contract expired. The haphazard way in which the network has gone about this is laughable. It’s so self-destructive as to mimic parody. If Rupert Murdoch really did make the final call, he should think about firing himself.