The New York Times obtained a copy of a text message Tucker Carlson sent to its producers, sparking an internal “crisis” just before the company settled a mammoth defamation case and eventually fired the prime-time host.
Carlson, who was Fox News’ golden boy until last month, wrote to one of his producers in the hours after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol that he recently saw a video of someone being punched by three white men became. The host described the men as “Trump guys” who surrounded an “Antifa kid” before “pounding the live shit out of him.”
“It was at least three against one,” Carlson wrote in the message, which was redacted in court filings. “Obviously jumping on a guy like that is dishonorable. That’s not how white men fight. But suddenly I found myself cheering the mob on the man, hoping they would hit him harder and kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it.”
Carlson went on to say that an “alarm went off” in his brain and he realized that he shouldn’t be happy about the victim’s beating, but should instead be angry about it. He did not describe the victim’s race.
“I should keep in mind that someone, somewhere, probably loves this child and would be devastated if they were killed,” he continued. “If I don’t care about these things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I any better than him?”
The revelation adds new context to Carlson’s departure from the network.
The Times reported last week that Fox News executives and board members were stunned after learning about it “very offensive” messages Carlson sent that this went beyond the racist, inflammatory rhetoric on his prime-time show. Lawyers for Fox uncovered the letters as they prepared the company’s defense of Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against the media company, but senior officials only found out about it a day before the trial began. It is unclear why the top officers had not seen the news until the eleventh hour.
Separately, the Times, citing sources familiar with Fox’s internal discussions, said Carlson’s texts created a “crisis” and were a key factor in the company’s decision to settle with Dominion for $787.5 million and avoid a potentially embarrassing lawsuit.
On Tuesday, the Times reported that the Fox board of directors was concerned that the Carlson text could be released during the Dominion trial in the weeks leading up to it and add to a series of damaging revelations.
The content of the message echoed Carlson’s inflammatory rhetoric on his weekend program.
The host regularly picked up white nationalist talking points and promoted racist “big replacement” conspiracy theories centered on false claims that white Americans were being deliberately replaced by immigrants and people of color. Just last month, he suggested that a black lawmaker in Tennessee speak like a “sharecropper.”