That text that got Tucker Carlson fired from Fox News is really no surprise

Carlson’s text is bad, but certainly not surprising given his track record of white nationalism, conspiracy theories, lies and fear-mongering.

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FILE - APRIL 24, 2023: It was reported that Fox News has announced that it has parted ways with Tucker Carlson, the network’s highest-rated prime-time host April 24, 2023. HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 17: Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on November 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775892907

Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on November 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida.


In the minutes, hours, and days after the shock of Tucker Carlson’s firing from Fox News settled in, the immediate question became: Why? And more pointedly, Why now?

In some ways, these were ridiculous if not rhetorical questions — there were countless good reasons to fire Carlson, from his myriad on-air controversies, which often led to advertiser boycotts, to his behind-the-scenes text tirades to producers and executives.

But because of the sheer volume of scandals, including a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, many were indeed scratching their heads as to the timing of Carlson’s sudden firing. Why, exactly, had Fox finally had enough?

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According to The New York Times, the following text message, which I’ll share in its entirety, is why:

“A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. 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. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be. 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. 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 text was reportedly sent to one of his producers following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Per the Times, the Fox board only saw the message a day before the Dominion trial was set to go before a jury, sparking concerns that it would create “a sensational and damaging moment that would raise broader questions about the company.”

It purportedly “set off a panic at the highest levels of Fox on the eve of its billion-dollar defamation trial,” and “showed its most popular host sharing his private, inflammatory views about violence and race.”

Now, anyone who’s been a student of Foxology for any length of time knows that “inflammatory views about violence and race” have been front-and-center of much of Fox’s news coverage for decades. And there are plenty of modern examples: Fox’s promotion of Donald Trump’s racist birtherism; Carlson’s defense of “sweet kid” Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted after killing two men; accusations of inciting violence against Trump-appointed doctor Anthony Fauci during COVID-19; accusations of inciting violence in the days leading up the Jan. 6 insurrection; Carlson’s platforming of “white replacement theory;” his absurd claim that the Jan. 6 protesters were merely sightseers.

Carlson’s also been accused of inciting violence against a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting. He’s been accused of pushing baseless conspiracy theories that have destroyed families, from fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick to murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich to Jan. 6 protester Ray Epps.

All of this is Fox’s bread and butter: conspiracy theories, lies, and stoking racial and political animus.

In fact, Carlson’s show has been called the “most racist show in the history of cable news.”

So it’s unclear which part of Carlson’s text alarmed Fox executives enough to fire him. Was it his vile admission that he was rooting for a mob of white Trump supporters to kill an Antifa protester? Nah, couldn’t be — Carlson has openly defended the mob of white Trump supporters who violently attacked the Capitol.

Was it the unabashedly white supremacist assertion that “jumping a guy” is “not how white men fight”? Carlson has openly lamented the fact that our once “overwhelmingly European, Christian, and English-speaking” nation is now a place with “no ethnic majority, immense religious pluralism, and no universally shared culture or language.” We’re surprised he thinks whites are a superior race?

The text is bad, but certainly not surprising. Frankly, the most unexpected part was his acknowledgment that the Antifa kid was still a human being and therefore deserved some empathy. My honest first inclination was that it was that admission that had Fox most concerned.

It’s good that Fox suddenly and eventually grew uncomfortable with Carlson’s white nationalist, conspiracy theory, violence-inciting diet of lies and fear-mongering. But the obvious question still is, what took them so long? Has Fox News met Fox News?

S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.

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