A textual content message despatched by Tucker Carlson that set off a panic on the highest ranges of Fox on the eve of its billion-dollar defamation trial confirmed its hottest host sharing his non-public, inflammatory views about violence and race.
The discovery of the message contributed to a series of occasions that in the end led to Mr. Carlson’s firing.
In the message, despatched to one in all his producers within the hours after violent Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Carlson described how he had lately watched a video of a gaggle of males — Trump supporters, he mentioned — violently attacking “an Antifa child.”
It was “three in opposition to one, no less than,” he wrote.
And then he expressed a way of dismay that the attackers, like him, had been white.
“Jumping a man like that’s dishonorable clearly,” he wrote.
“It’s not how white males struggle,” he mentioned. But he mentioned he discovered himself for a second wanting the group to kill the particular person he had described because the Antifa child.
For years, Mr. Carlson espoused views on his present that amplified the ideology of white nationalism. But the textual content message revealed extra about his views on racial superiority.
The textual content alarmed the Fox board, which noticed the message a day earlier than Fox was set to defend itself in opposition to Dominion Voting Systems earlier than a jury. The board grew involved that the message may develop into public at trial when Mr. Carlson was on the stand, making a sensational and damaging second that will elevate broader questions in regards to the firm.
The day after the invention, the board informed Fox executives it was bringing in an outdoor regulation agency to conduct an investigation into Mr. Carlson’s conduct.
The textual content message added to a rising variety of inner points involving Mr. Carlson that led the corporate’s management to conclude he was extra of an issue than an asset and needed to go, in keeping with a number of folks with information of the choice. In different messages he had referred to ladies — together with a senior Fox govt — in crude and misogynistic phrases. The message in regards to the struggle additionally performed a task within the firm’s determination to settle with Dominion for $787.5 million, the best identified payout in a defamation case.
A consultant for Mr. Carlson mentioned he had no remark.
The textual content is a part of redacted courtroom filings and its contents had been beforehand unreported. The contents of the textual content had been disclosed in interviews with a number of folks near the defamation lawsuit in opposition to Fox. The folks spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they didn’t wish to be recognized discussing a message that’s protected by a courtroom order. In public filings, it stays hidden behind a block of black textual content.
Mr. Carlson’s messages had been collected as a part of the defamation lawsuit filed in opposition to Fox by Dominion, which accused the community of knowingly airing falsehoods about election fraud. Many of the messages shared within the case, together with these amongst Fox executives and hosts, had been launched publicly. But others, just like the one between Mr. Carlson and one in all his producers within the hours after Jan. 6, 2021, stay redacted.
In that textual content, Mr. Carlson described his personal feelings as he watched the video of the violent conflict, which he mentioned passed off on the streets of Washington. Mr. Carlson didn’t describe the race of the person being attacked.
“I discovered myself rooting for the mob in opposition to the person, hoping they’d hit him more durable, kill him. I actually needed them to harm the child. I may style it,” he wrote. “Then someplace deep in my mind, an alarm went off: this is not good for me. I’m changing into one thing I do not wish to be.”
After all, he wrote, “Somebody in all probability loves this child, and could be crushed if he was killed.”
“If I do not care about these issues, if I scale back folks to their politics, how am I higher than he’s?” he wrote.
The textual content message got here to the eye of Fox’s board of administrators and even some senior executives solely final month, on the Sunday earlier than the trial was set to start, in keeping with two folks with information of Fox’s inner deliberations. At the time, Fox’s negotiators had been getting into discussions about an out-of-court settlement forward of the swearing in of what was shaping as much as be a various jury.
The subsequent day, the board informed Fox’s management about its plan to have the regulation agency Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz examine Mr. Carlson. That disclosure arrange the chance that there may very well be a unbroken investigation into what was behind Mr. Carlson’s messages similtaneously a trial, and as he was serving as its prime host in prime time.
Fox has not commented about Mr. Carlson’s ouster final week went past an preliminary assertion saying that they “agreed to half methods” and thanking “him for his service.” It didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Tuesday on the contents of Mr. Carlson’s redacted message.
It stays unclear how the textual content escaped extra discover earlier, provided that the Fox authorized group was conscious of it and different offensive texts written by Mr. Carlson. Fox’s legal professionals had produced the textual content as a part of the invention course of and had been concerned within the redactions. Mr. Carlson had even been requested about it throughout a deposition, in keeping with a number of individuals who have learn the unredacted transcripts of his deposition.
It was not assured that the textual content would have been revealed in open courtroom. Dominion’s legal professionals had nonetheless not determined whether or not they would introduce the textual content in entrance of the jury, in keeping with folks with information of their plans. The two sides disagreed on whether or not the Dominion legal professionals may have introduced such a redacted message at trial if that they had determined to take action, a choice that will have in the end fallen to the choose. The distinction grew to become moot after Fox struck an Eleventh-hour deal on April 18 to pay Dominion $787.5 million and keep away from trial.
How Fox’s executives and board dealt with the case within the months earlier than the trial was scheduled to start is predicted to be at subject in shareholder lawsuits filed in opposition to the corporate in Delaware.
Although Mr. Carlson’s present, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” was solely a small issue within the Dominion go well with, his private texts had been drawing outsize scrutiny.
The textual content in regards to the struggle got here on prime of a harmful chain of messages that had been revealed publicly forward of the trial, and that had been stunning in their very own proper. Writing to one in all his producers after the assault on the Capitol, Mr. Carlson describes the president he championed on his present as a “demonic drive” and a “destroyer.”
A recurring theme of his present throughout the six years that it ran in prime time on Fox News was the displacement of white Americans by folks of coloration. Mr. Carlson usually framed subjects within the information as half of a bigger battle between “us” and “them,” with immigrants and different marginalized teams steadily and absolutely taking from whites what had lengthy been theirs: political and cultural energy within the United States.
He attacked Black social justice activists and portrayed immigrants from Central America as a blight on the nation. He mentioned in 2018 that immigrants make the nation “dirtier.”
In the aftermath of a mass taking pictures in El Paso by the hands of a gunman who cited white supremacist beliefs in his manifesto, Mr. Carlson declared on his present that white supremacy was “not an actual downside,” likening it to a conspiracy concept.
On Monday, The New York Times and different information organizations urged the choose overseeing the Dominion case to launch among the messages that had been redacted.