The battle between Tucker Carlson and Fox News is heating up.
The cable news network, which announced on April 24 that it had “agreed to part ways” with its star anchor, sent Carlson a cease-and-desist letter on June 7 over his newly launched Twitter show, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.
The letter arrived hours after Carlson’s first show posted on the social media platform on June 6. The episode, clocked at 10 minutes and 27 seconds, was taped in Carlson’s home studio in Maine and took swipes at everyone from Senator Lindsey Graham to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the mainstream media. It has notched 114.8 million views so far. A second episode, which posted on June 7 and runs slightly longer at 12 minutes and 38 seconds, boasts 54.9 million views to date, according to Twitter’s own measures.
Fox is believed to be paying out Carlson’s $20 million annual salary in an arrangement similar to the one former Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs had. Anchors who are pushed from their positions at national news outlets without an obvious cause or reason are typically able to get the bulk of their remaining contract paid out. In exchange for that, they are generally barred from appearing on competing media until the terms of the contract have lapsed. At issue in Carlson’s case is whether or not Twitter could be considered competing media.
Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who is representing Carlson alongside Bryan Freedman, blasted the network for trying to keep Carlson sidelined until his contract expires in January 2025.
“Fox News continues to ignore the interests of its viewers, not to mention its shareholder obligations. Doubling down on the most catastrophic programming decision in the history of the cable news industry, Fox is now demanding that Tucker Carlson be silent until after the 2024 election. Tucker will not be silenced by anyone — whether it be Media Matters, the ADL or Fox News. He is a singularly important voice on matters of public interest in our country, and will remain so,” Dhillon said.
The person familiar with the legal wrangling says Fox and Carlson also are locked in something of a proxy war via the face-off between Republican presidential hopefuls Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. Rupert Murdoch and Fox News are said to be aligned with DeSantis. For his part, Carlson “will be swinging hard against the DOJ” in his third episode, scheduled for June 13, says the source. (The Department of Justice indicted Trump on 37 felony counts related to his alleged mishandling of government documents. The DOJ’s move appears to have boosted the former president within the Republican Party rather than help DeSantis.)
Varietythat a Fox Corp. board member had told Carlson that his recent benching was a condition of Fox News’ $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. Both Fox and Dominion denied that was the case.
Carlson is the latest media entrepreneur to try and challenge Fox News, hoping to woo its conservative base with programming they might want to watch but can no longer see on the network. Others have tested similar tactics including former Fox News primetime hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly as well as former afternoon host Glenn Beck. Newsmax, a rival cable and online outlet, has also vied to win viewers away from Fox News and employs former host Eric Bolling.