Tucker Carlson—the Fox News host who has made a wildly successful career out of pushing white nationalism on what is arguably the most racist show on television—is an entertainer, not a reporter. Carlson’s lawyers said as much when he was accused of slander for falsely claiming that Stormy Daniels had extorted President Trump. As NPR reported in 2020, US District Judge wrote, citing the argument put forth by Carlson’s defense team:
The “‘general tenor’ of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.'”
She wrote: “Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes.”
But the problem with that logic is that Fox News viewers aren’t reasonable—and Carlson knows it. In fact, Carlson appears to prey on his viewers’ inability to determine fact from fiction.
A legal filing released last night by Dominion Voting Systems, which is suing the network for defamation, reveals how Carlson deliberately misled viewers about claims of fraud during the 2020 election. Here, per the New York Times, he and Fox co-star Laura Ingraham discuss election fraud proponents Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani:
“Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” Mr. Carlson wrote to Ms. Ingraham on Nov. 18, 2020.
Ms. Ingraham responded: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.”
Mr. Carlson continued, “Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” he added, making clear that he did not.
Evidence that Carlson knew that the election claims were lies abounds in the legal filing. Just take a look at what he told Powell on Nov. 17:
You keep telling our viewers that millions of votes were changed by the software. I hope you will prove that very soon. You’ve convinced them that Trump will win. If you don’t have conclusive evidence of fraud at that scale, it’s a cruel and reckless thing to keep saying
But when Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich tweeted on Nov. 12 that, “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” newly released text messages show that Carlson exploded, telling Sean Hannity:
Please get her fired. Seriously…What the fuck? I’m actually shocked…It needs to stop immediately , like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.
Carlson was far from alone in ginning up the false narrative of election fraud while privately disavowing it. Here are a few other outrageous moments that have emerged this week:
- Tommy Firth, Laura Ingraham’s producer, on Nov. 12: “This dominion shit is goingto give me a fucking aneurysm—as many times as I’ve told Laura it’s bs, she sees shit posters and trump tweeting about it—.” The rest of Firth’s comments have been redacted from the filing.
- Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of the Fox Corporation, referring to a Nov. 19 press conference in which Rudy Giuliani claimed that Dominion voting machines had been rigged by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela: “Really crazy stuff. And damaging.”
- Suzanne Scott, Fox News CEO, regarding Fox’s airing of Giuliani’s and Powell’s Nov. 19 press conference: “The audience feels like we crapped on [them] and we have damaged their trust and belief in us…We can fix this but we cannot smirk at our viewers any longer.”
Read the full filing below: