[guest post by Dana]
Now that he’s unemployed, Moscow is wooing Tucker Carlson:
The departure from his job as Fox News host Tucker Carlson on April 24 sent ripples all the way to Moscow. The decision seemed so important to the Kremlin that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly questioned it and RT, Russia’s most prominent propaganda network, immediately offered Carlson a slot.
The RT offer, unavailable in the many countries where it is banned, was spelled out to Newsweek in a statement. “We already had the pleasure of working with the greats like [the imprisoned] Julian Assange and the late Larry King and had extended an invitation to President Trump in 2020, and we continue to welcome outspoken, diverse personalities on our network,” it said.
Not to be outdone, the Russian television host Vladimir Solovyov used his Telegram channel to make another offer. “Tucker, come and join us. You don’t have to be afraid of taking the p*** out of Biden here,” he said.
Official Russia’s affection for Carlson seems genuine and profound. Even before Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine 14 months ago, Carlson’s clips were a mainstay on Russia’s tightly controlled state-funded television. The American television host is a household name in Moscow, along with domestic TV figures like Solovyov, Margarita Simonyan, Dmitry Kiselyov, and other spokespeople for the war. Carlson has never outright endorsed the full-scale invasion, but has repeatedly questioned US support and asked, “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?”
With friends like these, am I right?!
It has now come to light that Carlson’s abrupt firing likely involved some less-than-professional language used to describe a Fox executive and other vulgarities, thus exposing the company to embarrassment:
Carlson described a senior Fox News executive as a C-word in a text message obtained by lawyers as part of a defamation lawsuit between the network and Dominion Voting Systems…
In a case settled last week for $787.5m, Fox lawyers reportedly convinced the Delaware judge to redact the message from public filings. Carlson, however, was still reportedly furious the network was not doing enough to protect him.
Other messages in which he called the Donald Trump adviser and attorney Sidney Powell attorney a C-word and a “bitch” were made public as part of the lawsuit.
The primetime host’s internal messages were among the most embarrassing for Fox, as he said he “passionately hated” Trump, called for a colleague to be fired for accurately fact-checking claims about voting machines, and bluntly criticized Powell.
Carlson faces a separate lawsuit from Abby Grossberg, a former senior booking producer who claims that Carlson created a sexist and hostile working environment, that she was denied promotion opportunities, and that she was then set up to be the scapegoat in Dominion Voting Systems’ suit against Fox News.
Grossberg’s lawyer Parisis Filippatos filed a motion to intervene in Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox in Delaware to assert her rights to the scope or location of her potential testimony, or alternatively unseal any transcripts concerning her or her testimony. Her lawyers state in the filing that Fox cannot rely on her “coerced, inaccurate, deposition testimony” while simultaneously asking the court to keep references to her testimony sealed….In the interview, Grossberg said network executives were well aware that she was booking guests like Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell for the “Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo” show, and that they were likely to spread unfounded conspiracy theories about Dominion’s voting machines.
While Carlson mulls over Kremlin job offers and lawyers work on his behalf, will Fox News continue to be the organ of the Republican Party? Will viewers stick with the network after this latest slap in their collective face? Carlson, like Trump, knew precisely what viewers wanted, and was more than willing to dish up their favorite MAGA gruel. He was rewarded with eye-popping ratings and a loyal following that continued to grow over the years. But Carlson isn’t the first major on-air “talent” to be fired by Fox (see: Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly (Carlson’s show was a replacement). Despite Tucker Carlson’s baffling popularity, the smirking little demi-god forgot that, at the end of the day, he was just an employee who answered to those more powerful than a cable pundit. And like the previously fired pundits, it probably didn’t ever occur to Carlson that he really was expendable. The man created a hostile work environment, he posed a tremendous liability to the company with the revelation of the text messages and was revealed to be little more than a grifter who peddled lies to his viewers. When you consider everything, the real question isn’t Why would they fire him?, it’s My God, why *wouldn’t* they fire him? Ultimately, Tucker Carlson failed to realize that a company’s bottom line matters more than anyone’s ego. Even an organization as powerful as Fox Corporation and as reliant upon its mega-star as Fox News was, has limitations. Only so many hits can be taken. I think that his insatiable ego and financial success convinced him that he was invincible, untouchable, and impervious to the standard trappings of employment. Carlson has always been a smart-ass frat boy with a delusional view of his importance and worth. It might be a jolt to Carlson, but it has been aptly said about Fox News: “They’ve built a machine over there that seems to function even when the pistons are replaced.”
Meanwhile, enjoy this little video that Carlson released last night. It contains his usual talking points and a reminder that he is the one who delivers truth. IOW, typical gruel served to his viewers:
Good evening pic.twitter.com/SPrsYKWKCE
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) April 27, 2023
P.S. Despite Tucker Carlson having been fired, rest assured, the First Amendment is alive and well.