New court documents released as per Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News show that network host Tucker Carlson was no fan of then-President Donald Trump during the final days of his presidency.
In fact, his frustration with Trump became evident right after the 2020 presidential election, when he allegedly fretted in texts to a network producer that Trump would “destroy” the network if it didn’t cover his legal challenge in a certain way.
“What [Trump]’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong,” one text message reads, according to the lawsuit.
As previously reported, Trump refused to concede defeat following the 2020 election. Instead, he began filing legal challenges contesting the election’s legitimacy.
Carlson’s exasperation with these efforts became abundantly clear months later on Jan. 4th, 2021, when he triumphantly texted to an unknown staffer, “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.”
When the staffer replied theorizing that the post-election craziness would die down by mid-February, Carlson unleashed his inner Kraken.
Tucker Carlson on Trump on Jan 4, 2021:
“I hate him passionately”
“We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.” pic.twitter.com/pejdZEMIZM
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) March 8, 2023
“I hate him passionately. I blew up at [then-Trump administration official] Peter Navarro today in frustration. I actually like Peter. But I can’t handle much more of this,” he wrote in a text message to the staffer.
He reportedly added that Trump and his lawyers “have so discredited their own case, and the rest of us to some extent, that it’s infuriating. Absolutely enrages me.”
“That’s the last four years. We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump,” he reportedly continued.
These text messages are included in a set of exhibits contained in the new court filings made this week by Dominion in its defamation suit against Fox News.
As previously reported, the company has accused the network of purposefully airing false information about it in the days after the presidential election.
In a statement, Fox News dismissed the new filings.
“Thanks to today’s filings, Dominion has been caught red handed again using more distortions and misinformation in their PR campaign to smear FOX News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press. We already know they will say and do anything to try to win this case, but to twist and even misattribute quotes to the highest levels of our company is truly beyond the pale,” the statement reads.
The new filings also contain text messages allegedly from other network hosts such as Maria Bartiromo.
Written right after the 2020 presidential election, the messages from Bartiromo reportedly show her admitting that she’d instructed her staff to not refer to then-President-elect Joe Biden as President-elect.
In a Nov. 10 exchange with Steve Bannon, Fox host Maria Bartiromo says that she’d instructed her team not to call Joe Biden “president elect.” This was three days after Fox News and other outlets called the election for Biden. pic.twitter.com/ghXejFt4IK
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) March 7, 2023
“I want to see massive fraud exposed … I told my team we are not allowed to say pres elect at [all]. Not in scripts or in banners on air. Until this moves through the courts,” she reportedly wrote.
Another text message exchange shows that Fox News D.C. chief, Bill Sammon, had in the days after the 2020 election decried the network’s coverage of Trump’s legal challenges, calling the coverage an “existential crisis” for the network.
“It’s remarkable how weak ratings makes good journalists do bad things,” he wrote.
The Daily Beast, a left-wing site, argues that these texts show how Fox News was “at war with itself as it balanced the need to juice its ratings with the apparent knowledge that it was platforming false claims of fraud by then-President Donald Trump in the days and weeks following the 2020 election.”
But to be fair to Fox News, Trump’s legal “claims of fraud” were being fairly litigated in court.
There was absolutely some concern about legitimacy, as evidenced by Carlson’s tweets, but ultimately nobody knew until the claims were rejected in court — which, as history shows, all of them eventually were.
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