A racially charged and bloodthirsty text sent by Tucker Carlson about the assault of a protestor by Trump supporters was reportedly a key factor that precipitated the anchor’s shock exit from Fox News last week.
The New York Times reported Tuesday night that the discovery of Carlson’s message, and the language it contained, “set off a panic” amongst Fox executives on the eve of the defamation trial brought by Dominion Voting Systems against the cable news network.
Carlson’s text, published in full by the Times, was sent the day after the Jan.6 U.S. Capitol attack and was a reaction to a video clip of an assault that occurred weeks earlier. In the text, Carlson reacts to three Trump supporters beating one lone protestor. It is unclear what race the protestor was. “Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight,” Carlson writes. “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,” the text published by the Times said.
Later in the text, Carlson admonishes himself for his bloodlust. “I’m becoming something I don’t want to be,” he writes. “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.”
He concluded, “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 Times reports that the Fox board saw the text the day before the Dominion trial was set to begin, and they were worried that it would become public during legal proceedings, particularly if Carlson was called to the stand. Fox ultimately settled the Dominion suit for $787.5 million.
Citing people with knowledge of the situation, the Times reports that the text, part of redacted court filings, was yet another factor pushing Fox to jettison Carlson, the most popular anchor on cable news.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Fox News for comment.
The Fox board’s dramatic reaction to the text might seem at odds with the commentary Carlson regularly pushed on his Fox News show. Carlson’s show has been accused of mainstreaming white nationalist talking points such as the overtly racist “great replacement theory.”
In 2018, in a segment on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson said that immigration makes the United States “dirtier,” a comment he later doubled down on. The controversy led to an advertiser backlash that saw brands such as Pacific Life Insurance, TD Ameritrade, IHOP, the United Explorer credit card, Just For Men and Jaguar Land Rover pull their ads from Fox News.