What the Tucker Carlson Dominion texts said about Trump

Conservative commentator hates former president ‘passionately’, lawsuit filing revealed

Joe Sommerlad
Tuesday 25 April 2023 03:24 BST
Tucker Carlson speaks in Hungary
Tucker Carlson speaks in Hungary (Getty Images)

Fox News star host Tucker Carlson has left the popular right-wing cable news network. Fox announced Carlson’s shock departure in a brief statement on Monday 24 April, saying both sides had “agreed to part ways”.

While the exact reason for Carlson’s departure is not yet clear, he had been under fire from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers after airing selectively edited video excerpts from 41,000-hours of surveillance footage from the Capitol riot, handed to him by House speaker Kevin McCarthy, in an attempt to cast doubt on the established narrative.

And Carlson’s name had cropped up in court filings by Dominion Voting Systems, the company that launched a massive defamation suit against Fox News over the network’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election and Mr Trump’s bogus claims that the contest was “rigged”. Less than a week ago, Fox settled with Dominion for an eye-popping $787m. Now Carlson himself is out at the network.

Dominion, a manufacturer of voting machines, had argued that its reputation was damaged by Fox anchors like Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Lou Dobbs spreading conspiracy-minded speculation on air that they themselves did not believe.

But attorneys for Fox accused the company of “cherry-picking soundbites” and “omitting key context” in its filings, which contained private text messages and emails between the top anchors and senior executives including Rupert Murdoch.

Tucker Carlson discussing the insurrection on his show
Tucker Carlson discussing the insurrection on his show (Fox News)

“Dominion brought this lawsuit to punish the Fox News Network for reporting on one of the biggest stories of the day – allegations by the sitting president of the United States and his surrogates that the 2020 election was affected by fraud. The very fact of those allegations was newsworthy,” Fox had argued.

The filings showed Mr Carlson bemoaning the criticism he has personally received from viewers over the network’s correct decision to call Arizona for Joe Biden on election night 2020 and calling Trump lawyer and regular guest Sidney Powell a “f***ing b****” and accusing her of lying.

But one of their most interesting aspects has been what Dominion’s submissions reveal about Mr Carlson’s attitude towards Mr Trump himself, whom he regularly defended on air throughout his presidency and its aftermath.

Dominion and Fox News settled their dispute moments before opening arguments were scheduled to begin in the blockbuster defamation trial. A jury had been seated in the Delaware courtroom when the settlement was announced.

Carlson ‘hates’ Trump ‘passionately’

In filings from the case before it proceeded to an almost-trial, Carlson was seen expressing his hatred of Mr Trump in a text message sent to a fellow Fox employee two days before the Capitol riot: “We are very very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.

“I hate him passionately, I blew up at Peter Navarro today in frustration. I actually like Peter. But I can’t handle much more of this.”

Carlson called Trump a ‘demonic force’

An earlier filing published on 16 February contained an anxious text from Carlson to his producer Alex Pfeiffer warning of the dangers of displeasing the outgoing president.

In that one, Carlson describes Mr Trump as “a demonic force, a destroyer”, adding: “But he’s not going to destroy us.”

“What he’s good at is destroying things,” the host wrote, according to Dominion.

“He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”

Carlson demands White House reporter be fired over Trump correction

In another message purportedly sent to a group chat including Ingraham and Hannity on 12 November, a week after the US had gone to the polls, Carlson pointed out a tweet from the network’s White House correspondent, Jacqui Heinrich, in which she fact-checked a post by Mr Trump alleging voter fraud.

In it, she pointed out that “top election infrastructure officials” had declared: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”

Carlson reacted by saying: “Please get her fired. Seriously… What the f***? I’m actually shocked… It needs to stop tonight immediately, like tonight. It’s immeasurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”

Given his comments elsewhere, this appears to be a demonstration of loyalty towards the carefully cultivated Fox brand and not an attempt to shield Mr Trump from criticism.

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