There’s been a lot of speculation about what finally convinced Fox News to show Tucker Carlson the door. For instance, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal hinted that the final straw was a raft of remarks in Carlson’s text messages. Those messages had been made public as part of Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox, and made some of his more incendiary commentary on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” look tame by comparison. According to The Times, the prospect of Carlson and others being questioned under oath about those messages was a major reason why Fox coughed up $787 million to Dominion.
But that doesn’t explain the abrupt nature of Carlson’s ouster. I suspect another factor was Carlson’s leadership in the pro-Trump mob that made the life of former Oath Keeper Ray Epps a living hell for the last two years. Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter already touched on it earlier this week, but I delved further into it at my new Substack.
Let’s review. For most of the last two years, Epps has been the target of a baseless conspiracy theory that suggests the FBI was using Jan. 6 as the American equivalent of the Reichstag fire—and that Epps was a provocateur who incited people to go into the Capitol. All available evidence shows that Epps went past a barricade, but never entered the Capitol itself. Indeed, according to numerous video clips, he was actually trying to calm things down. According to The Times, he reached out to federal agents after finding out they were looking for him. After two interviews, agents believed his claims that he was trying to diffuse the situation.
But that hasn’t stopped a feedback loop going as far as Trump himself from smearing him. As a result of the ensuing harassment and threats, Epps had to give up his events business in the Phoenix area and has been holed up with his wife in an undisclosed spot in the Rockies. Carlson was part of that loop; he kept attacking Epps even after being served with a cease-and-desist letter from one of Epps’ lawyers.
Multiple outlets have reported that Fox News’ brain trust decided on Friday night that Carlson had to go. But if that’s true, why not call him on Saturday morning? My guess is that the Murdochs and Scott knew Epps was going on “60 Minutes” and wanted to see how bad it was going to be before deciding how to proceed with getting Carlson out the door. Judging by how fast Fox reacted after Epps revealed Carlson had gone after him six times in 2023 alone, it looks like the Fox brain trust concluded that Carlson had to go and now.
For more on this, head on over to my new Substack at Loud, Liberal, Christian. While you’re there, consider getting a subscription, either free or paid. Both get my newsletter, while a paid one helps support my work.