When the news came out on Monday that Fox News and Tucker Carlson had “agreed to part ways,” it was – as Megyn described – an “absolute bombshell in the media world.” The statement from the network was brief, though it made clear that Carlson would not appear on the Fox News airwaves again.
Many took this to mean that the Tucker Carlson Tonight host had been fired, but, on Tuesday’s program, Megyn shared that is not the case. Citing well-placed sources, she shed light on Carlson’s current employment status and reflected on the “disheartening” and “disrespectful” actions of the network.
Tucker Carlson Is Still Employed by Fox News
As Megyn explained, Carlson’s employment was not terminated as some reports have suggested. “Tucker Carlson hasn’t actually been fired,” she shared. “He’s still an employee of the Fox News Channel.” Instead, she revealed that Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott called Carlson on Monday morning to tell him “he was not going to be allowed to do any more shows and that he had been kicked out of his company email.”
The Fox News statement laid out that a rotation of personalities will host an interim program, Fox News Tonight, in the 8pm ET time slot until a permanent replacement for Carlson is named. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade filled in on Monday night, and what is known about the future of the time slot is that it will not be helmed by Carlson’s former team. “They fired his executive producer, Justin Wells,” Megyn said. “And though he tried to find out why, they refused to tell him why.”
Like Wells, Carlson was “completely” caught off guard by all of this, Megyn said. And the fact that he is still technically employed by Fox News impacts his ability to move on. “Now they’re going to have to negotiate an exit,” Megyn explained. “Right now, he’s not free to launch a podcast or a digital show or negotiate with other employers at all because he’s still under contract.”
Why Fox News’ Actions Are ‘Disheartening’ and ‘Disrespectful’
There has been plenty of speculation as to why Fox News made this decision at this point in time, but, regardless of the rationale, Megyn called the entire situation “disheartening.” As she explained it, Carlson “had been in the primetime for seven years and saw Fox News through one of the most difficult times in its history – the immediate era post-Roger Ailes where they didn’t know left from right, they didn’t know up from down.”
When Carlson stepped into the 8pm slot in 2017, Fox News had recently lost both Megyn and Bill O’Reilly and was given – in Megyn’s words – “a huge order” and yet he “smashed the ball out of the park.” While she admitted he “took a lot of risks” and “pushed against the orthodoxy on so many different things,” Megyn said Fox News used to like that.
With that in mind, Megyn wants to know what changed. “What was it that led them to treat their number one star with such disdain – I mean, dripping disdain to the point where he can no longer access his email, he doesn’t get to tell his own team, he doesn’t get to say goodbye,” she asked. “I just think the way they handled it was disrespectful and gross.”
What Comes Next for Carlson and Fox News
Fox News has successfully weathered top talent leaving the network in the past, and that is clearly the hope again this time. “Fox News is banking on its audience not leaving it, on its audience being more in love with the Fox News brand than they were with Tucker,” Megyn noted. “We’ll see whether or not that’s true.” Anecdotal evidence would suggest Carlson’s millions of viewers are upset, and ratings will ultimately tell the story of how the audience feels about the change.
On Carlson’s side, reports indicate he has retained the services of famed entertainment attorney Bryan Freedman, who has also represented Megyn. Megyn said Freedman will work to get Carlson the remainder of what is owed to him and negotiate any other terms of separation.
Her advice to Fox News: “They should pay him out and they should let him out of his non-compete, so he can go out there and get his voice on the air now when his audience will most be missing it.”
You can check out Megyn’s full analysis of the media shakeups by tuning in to episode 536 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.