Two weeks ago the news media world was left utterly stunned by the abrupt announcement from Fox News that it had fired Tucker Carlson. The firing came one week after Fox agreed to pay $780 million to settle a defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems. In a strange twist, Don Lemon was fired by CNN on the same day, at roughly the same exact time.
There are a number of theories as to why Fox fired Tucker. After all, he was the network’s brightest star. Tucker’s former show was often the highest-rated show on cable, regularly attracting 3 million nightly viewers. By comparison, CNN’s Anderson Cooper attracts around 600,000 nightly viewers.
Why was Tucker fired?
There are two leading theories that most people think combined to force Lachlan Murdoch (Rupert Murdoch’s son who runs Fox) to fire with Tucker:
#1) The Dominion defamation case brought to light some texts and emails sent by Tucker in which he disparages his (now former) Fox News bosses.
#2) Tucker and Fox News are facing a separate sexual harassment case in which a former producer alleges his show was a toxic and misogynistic work environment.
At the time of his firing, Tucker was earning an salary of $10 million per year and he was under contract for another 2-3 years.
By firing Tucker, Fox had two options:
#1) It could continue to pay Tucker $10 million per year for the next 2.5 years to sit on the sidelines and never appear on a rival network or media platform. That would have been a roughly $25 million bill to keep Tucker locked up.
#2) Fox could have claimed Tucker was fired “for cause” which would have allowed them to void the contract and save $25 million BUT it would have made him free to appear on rival networks and media platforms immediately.
There was a third option.
#3) Tucker quits. He gives up a guaranteed $25 million but instantly buys his freedom.
And that’s the option Tucker just chose.
Earlier today Tucker posted the following video to Twitter in which he reveals his decision to opt-out of his Fox contract and launch a new show on Twitter:
You may be asking, “How can someone quit something they were fired from?” Well the answer is a bit of a semantics game. Tucker wasn’t “fired” by Fox in the way that you may have been fired from a job. A better way of phrasing it would be that Tucker’s show was taken off the air, but Tucker himself was kept as an inactive employee.
You may also be asking, “What is a Twitter show?” I have no clue. I also don’t know how Tucker plans to make $10+ million from a Twitter show. Maybe Elon Musk is simply going to pay him $10 million per year to be exclusive to Twitter. Or maybe Tucker’s show will be a Twitter Blue exclusive and he’ll get a cut of the subscription fees?
Either way, ballsy move for Tucker! Personally, I would have taken the $25 million.
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