Fox News sources told the NYT that a text message led to host Tucker Carlson’s firing.
But critics say the host embraced white nationalist views on his show for several years.
In the text, Carlson made inflammatory remarks about violence and race.
A text in which top-rated host Tucker Carlson made inflammatory comments about the race was reportedly the final straw for Fox News executives.
In the message, obtained by The New York Times, the host describes watching a group of Donald Trump supporters attack an activist from the left-wing antifa movement.
“Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously,” he wrote. “It’s not how the white men fight,” he added, describing how he wanted to see the men kill the antifa supporters.
“Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be,” Carlson continued.
The text was reportedly so shocking to executives, that it helped set in motion a chain of events that led to Carlson’s exit from the network last week.
Critics of Fox News, however, say the remarks should not have come as a surprise to the network.
For years, Carlson has been accused of pushing white nationalist talking points on race, migration, the January 6 riots and a range of other subjects to his viewers, which peaked in 2018 at 3.2 million a night.
“While this text message is virulently racist and would trigger the dismissal of a host that made it on any other network, it’s no worse than the toxic bigotry Tucker Carlson regularly broadcast to his millions of Fox News viewers with the open approval of the Murdochs, ” said Matt Gertz, a senior analyst at Media Matters, a liberal-leaning media watchdog.
Other critics echoed the view. “Fox execs apparently alarmed by the naked White supremacist… though if you’ve ever watched his show, it would not be a surprise,” tweeted CNN anchor Abby Phillip in response to the text.
Insider has contacted Carlson’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, for comment on the claims. Fox News declined to comment.
The host’s controversial views have in the past attracted advertiser boycotts, waves of criticism, and in November 2021 a walkout by 2 Fox News staffers.
But as Carlson continued to attract top ratings, the network’s boss Lachlan Murdoch and his executives appeared to take a hands-off approach.
In his sworn deposition as part of the Dominion suit, Carlson said he “rarely” communicated with Lachlan Murdoch, according to the New York Times.
However, the background to Tucker’s firing is, in reality, likely more complex.
As part of its billion dollar lawsuit against Fox News, election machines company Dominion obtained swaths of messages from the network’s hosts, including Carlson.
Fox News reportedly feared that contents from Carlson’s redacted messages could be made public during the Dominion trial.
Among the messages were those that mocked false claims from Trump allies that the Dominion’s machines had used to fix the 2020 election. But Carlson went further, and privately insulted network executives in private communications to producers.
In addition, the host was facing a lawsuit from former producer Abby Grossberg who alleges that there was rampant misogyny and anti-Semitism in the workplace.
Fox News has described her accusations as “riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees.”
According to Vanity Fair, Rupert Murdoch, Fox News’ owner, was beginning to tire of Carlson’s uncompromising, religious-tinged rhetoric.
And another likely factor in Carlson’s exit was appeasing Fox shareholders in the wake of the $787.5 million settlement Fox News reached with Dominion.
“Fox Corp.’s board of directors is desperate to forestall the wave of shareholder lawsuits likely to result from the record-breaking Dominion settlement, and this is something that they can point to as evidence they haven’t been entirely asleep at the wheel ,” he remarked of the firing.
For the Murdochs, it was likely a combination of toxic factors that ultimately proved too much and led them to cut ties with the controversial host.
Read the original article on Business Insider