The New York Times obtained a copy of a text message Tucker Carlson sent to his producers that set off an internal “crisis” just before the company settled a mammoth defamation case and ultimately fired the prime-time host.
Carlson, who until last month was Fox News’ golden boy, texted one of his producers in the hours after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that he had recently watched a video of someone being beaten by three white men. The host described the men as “Trump guys” surrounding an “Antifa kid” before “pounding the living shit out of him.”
“It was three against one, at least,” Carlson wrote in the message, which had been redacted in court filings. “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.”
Carlson went on to say that an “alarm went off” in his brain and he realized he shouldn’t gloat over the victim’s beating but instead be bothered by it. He did not describe the race of the victim.
“I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed,” he continued. “If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?”
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 “highly offensive” messages Carlson sent that went beyond the racist, inflammatory rhetoric on his prime-time show. Fox lawyers uncovered the missives as they prepared for the company’s defense against Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against the media company, but senior executives only learned of them a day before the trial was set to begin. It’s unclear why the top brass hadn’t seen the messages until the eleventh hour.
Regardless, the Times, citing sources familiar with Fox’s internal discussions, said Carlson’s texts set off a “crisis” and were a key point in the company’s decision to settle with Dominion for $787.5 million and avoid a potentially embarrassing trial.
On Tuesday, the Times reported that the Fox board worried the Carlson text could become public at trial and add to a string of damaging revelations in the weeks leading up to the Dominion trial.
The content of the message echoed Carlson’s inflammatory rhetoric on his weeknight program.
The host regularly embraced white nationalist talking points and promoted racist “great replacement” conspiracy theories centering on false claims that white Americans are being intentionally replaced by immigrants and people of color. Just last month he suggested that a Black lawmaker in Tennessee spoke like a “sharecropper.”