Newly discovered text messages from Tucker Carlson to one of his producers raised eyebrows and alarm for the Fox News board of directors, according to the New York Times. They learned about the text the day before the defamation trial brought by Dominion Voting Systems. Insiders speaking to the Times told them the redacted message set off alarm bells with the board, who hired law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to investigate Carlson’s communications, and no doubt played a part in their decision to settle with Dominion. The message also played a part in their decision to fire Tucker more than 2 years later. It’s difficult to see, however, whether the message is any more inflammatory than his regular statements on his program. That said, it’s not good.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. 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. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I’m sure I’d hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?
The surprise isn’t that Carlson immediately identified with the violent right-wing mob, only that he had second thoughts about it. “It’s not how white men fight” is a racist statement, and all of American and British history proves it’s inaccurate besides. According to the Times, this message was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Fox board, though it begs several questions. How was Fox unaware of the message for so long? Carlson sent it to a producer in January 2021, and it was in the Dominion court filings long before the trial was set to begin. It’s also no worse than entire programs devoted to dispelling the “myth” of white supremacy while reinforcing the “Great Replacement” theory that claims people of color are plotting to replace whites as the dominant culture in America. Or that POC are more likely to commit crimes. Or that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, while privately ranting about the former President and the gullibility of his followers.
Basically, everything Tucker Carlson’s ever said is bad. It’s difficult to believe this private statement could harm Fox’s defense against the Dominion defamation suit, given the uphill battle they already faced. To me, releasing the message feels like a play by Fox to limit Carlson’s appeal to other broadcasters like Newsmax or OANN. They don’t want the competition.