Tucker Carlson is back. Two weeks after being taken off the air at Fox News, the former Tucker Carlson Tonight host gave the most definitive insight into what’s next for him with a three-minute video released on Twitter.
In the clip, Carlson continued to drive home the point of that the media cannot be trusted. “Much of what you see on television or read The New York Times is, in fact, true in the literal sense… but that doesn’t make it true… Facts have been withheld on purpose… you are being manipulated,” Carlson said, in part. “The best you can hope for in the news business at this point is the freedom to tell the fullest truth that you can, but there are always limits. And you know that if you bump up against those limits often enough, you will be fired for it. That’s not a guess. It’s a guarantee.”
He went on to share that he will “soon” be relaunching a version of Tucker Carlson Tonight – first on Twitter and eventually on TuckerCarlson.com. While the media immediately started speculating about some kind of paid partnership between Carlson and Twitter, Elon Musk said there is no deal in place.
On Wednesday’s show, Megyn took a deep dive into Carlson’s announcement and what comes next. Chiefly, she examined what it means for the ensuing legal battle between the host and Fox News and whether or not the network will be able to recover.
Megyn’s Thoughts on Carlson’s Announcement
Megyn has been vocal on-air this week that Carlson should speak out, and she was “delighted” to see the video released. “Tucker decided to give Fox News a dose of its own medicine – ‘You want to fight? You got one’ is essentially what he said,” she shared. “He tried to take the high road for over two weeks as they smeared him and tried to ruin his reputation while muzzling him and hoping he would just sit back and take the check, and – Tucker being Tucker – that was not acceptable to him.”
The video has already racked up tens of millions of views, and Megyn believes it was wise for Carlson to use Twitter as his means of disseminating this content. “He’s just utilizing the Twitter platform, which is smart because Twitter is better than ever,” she noted. “Conservatives feel welcome there now in a way they didn’t before Elon, and it’s a great way of reaching millions and millions of fans.”
The Legal Battle That’s Brewing
As Megyn explained, there are two sides to the forthcoming legal battle between Carlson and Fox News. On the network’s end, Megyn said Carlson’s announcement will be considered a breach of contract, and it remains to be seen if Fox News will fight to enforce its former talent’s non-compete agreement. “I mean, a non-compete is controversial enough if you just choose to leave [a company], but if they fire you… you just have to sit out and not work,” she asked.
There is not much precedent for this situation, but Megyn said the media industry would not want to see an arbitrator or federal district court strike down a non-compete agreement. One of the reasons she has been urging Carlson to speak out is because she sees it as “a smart legal strategy” given the circumstances. “Is he really supposed to sit out the 2024 presidential election,” she questioned. “Let’s see what arbitrator is going to uphold that non-compete when he’s given back the money and he’s been fired by Fox.”
Megyn believes Fox News knows it’s vulnerable. “I predict Fox settles this thing now, then I think they’re going to take this to an arbitrator,” she shared. “They’re not going to take this to court, but that’s what Tucker’s threatening.”
On that front, Axios obtained a letter from Carlson’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, to Fox officials Viet Dinh (chief legal and policy officer) and Irena Briganti (senior executive vice president of corporate communications) that says Fox employees – including “Rupert Murdoch himself” – broke promises to Carlson “intentionally and with reckless disregard for the truth.” The letter alleges the actions “not only breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the agreement, but give rise to claims for breach of contract, and intentional and negligent misrepresentation.”
Megyn says this also centers around the treasure of leaks that have been planted at The New York Times, Media Matters, and other outlets. “I’ve been saying this all along… if they were behind these smears, it’s a breach of what we call the covenant of good faith and fair dealing that is built into every contract,” she noted. In the context of employment law, Megyn explained that an employer has the contractual obligation to deal honestly and fairly with the employee on the other end of the contract. “Is it honest and fair for a company to silence a man while day by day leaking his confidential moments and communications within the company when was a faithful servant of the company,” she asked.
If this case goes to court, Megyn said Briganti and other Fox executives’ records would be subpoenaed and they would be forced to sit for depositions and answer questions about what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did (or didn’t) do to protect Carlson. “‘Nothing’ is going to be the answer… because they wanted him destroyed,” she said. “That’s not a good look for Fox News in front of an arbitrator or a federal judge.”
Can Fox News Recover Its Audience?
It remains to be seen whether the contract dispute between Carlson and the network will go to court or arbitration, but Megyn said there is no reason to “predict Fox News will win.” And, in the event it was victorious, it’s unclear if the audience will ever return. “How do they win their viewers back? That’s the real question” she noted. “Taking him to court to keep him silent ain’t it. The bloodbath continues on the 8pm ratings and beyond.”
But it’s not just what is happening in Carlson’s former timeslot. The Fox News primetime ratings are down across the board. As Megyn explained, the averages of both total viewers and the key advertising demographic of 25 to 54 year olds are “just awful” since Carlson’s departure. “The whole primetime has been blown up thanks to this bone-headed decision,” she said. “So you go ahead, Fox, and try to have a 19-month battle with Tucker over whether he needs to sit on the sidelines and not add his voice to the national conversation… see how that goes for your two-thirds of the audience which has fled.”
Meanwhile, cable news competitors like Newsmax have had their ratings skyrocket and digital programs – including The Megyn Kelly Show – have also seen a boost. “Newsmax is the beneficiary of a lot of the older viewers, and I think the digital lane has been the beneficiary of a lot of the younger viewers,” Megyn noted. “I don’t know that Fox gets them back… it’s got a lot of meaningful competition out there and their swagger needs to be dialed back a little because abusing their top talent is now having real-life consequences for them.”
You can check out the full episode by tuning in to episode 547 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.