Tucker Carlson Declares War Against Fox News: Will He Join Rival Networks?
Tucker Carlson, the controversial conservative host and commentator, is reportedly “preparing for war” against his former employer, Fox News. Carlson was fired from the network last month after using sexist and racist language in private texts. But the issue at the heart of the conflict is Carlson’s contract, which reportedly prevents him from working for other media outlets and could last until after the 2024 presidential election.
Carlson’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, has said that he is “working on a settlement for Carlson with Fox News,” and that “the idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.” Freedman also told Axios that Carlson was eager to get back on television as soon as possible, and that the noncompete clause in his contract is a major obstacle.
“There are circumstances where pay-or-play provisions can be challenged, but networks and studios certainly view them as being relatively ironclad,” said entertainment lawyer Andy Lee, who is not connected to the Carlson-Fox circumstances. “It’s not always just a question of money, because being off the air for an extended period can have an adverse effect on a career.”
According to reports, Carlson is exploring the possibility of creating his own media company or joining a new venture backed by billionaire Elon Musk. The possibility of Carlson joining a competitor, such as Newsmax, is a major concern for Fox News, which could lose Carlson’s estimated 3.5 million loyal viewers.
“A campaign to push Fox News to stop the censorship of Carlson, including blocking him until his contract expires January 2025, is expected to kick up now,” Axios reported. Carlson’s supporters accuse Fox of engaging in a “vicious smear campaign” against him, using leaked texts and video clips to portray him as a misogynist and racist.
However, Carlson’s side is reportedly preparing to release damaging information on Fox in retaliation. “He knows where a lot of bodies are buried, and is ready to start drawing a map,” a Carlson source told Axios. While Carlson himself may not make disparaging comments about Fox, his camp is said to be preparing to use surrogate media and social media influencers.
“They’re coming to him and saying: ‘Do you want me to hit Fox?”’ a close Carlson friend told Axios. “He’s been saying: ‘No. I want to get this done quiet and clean.’ Now, we’re going from peacetime to Defcon 1. His team is preparing for war. He wants his freedom.”
The situation could become messy, as Fox News is reportedly preparing to fight Carlson’s efforts to break his contract. Carlson’s case could also have implications for other Fox News stars, who may have similar clauses in their contracts.
“In any agreement, Fox would most likely insist on prohibiting Mr. Carlson from joining a cable news competitor, said a person familiar with how negotiations with big Fox stars have unfolded in the past,” The New York Times reported.
Despite the controversy, Carlson’s popularity among conservative viewers remains strong. Since his departure from Fox, ratings for Newsmax’s “Eric Bolling The Balance” airing at the same time are up over 200%, while the network’s overall ratings are up over 100%, according to Nielsen.