The network claims its ousted host violated his contract by starting new show on Twitter
Fox News has alleged that former host Tucker Carlson breached his employment contract by launching a new talk show on Twitter, arguing that the network has exclusive rights to his services.
Fox News general counsel Bernard Gugar sent a letter on Tuesday evening to Carlson’s lawyers, warning that the network would take action to protect its contractual rights, Axios reported on Wednesday. “This evening, we were made aware of Mr. Tucker Carlson’s appearance on Twitter in a video that lasted over 10 minutes,” the outlet quoted Gugar as saying. “Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Mr. Carlson’s services shall be completely exclusive to Fox.”
Carlson, who boasted the highest ratings in US cable news history, was ousted by Fox in April, after the network agreed to pay a $787 million defamation settlement to Dominion Voting Systems for allegedly making false statements about the company. Axios said Fox, which continues to pay Carlson his contractually agreed salary, aims to keep him silenced through 2025, which would keep him sidelined through the 2024 presidential election.
The host’s own Twitter talk show debuted on Tuesday, attracting more than 90 million views in its first 24 hours. The ratings highwater mark for his primetime show at Fox was 5.3 million viewers.
Gugar’s letter claimed that under Carlson’s contract, the host was “prohibited from rendering services of any type whatsoever, whether over the internet via streaming or similar distribution, or other digital distribution whether now known or hereafter devised.”
Bryan Freedman, a lawyer representing Carlson, blasted Fox’s effort to block Carlson from expressing his views. “Fox defends its very existence on freedom of speech grounds,” he said in a statement. “Now they want to take Tucker Carlson’s right to speak freely away from him because he took to social media to share his thoughts on current events.”
Carlson has accused Fox of fraud and claimed that network executives reneged on their promises, including a pledge not to settle with Dominion “in a way which would indicate wrongdoing.” Axios said a Fox board member told the host that he was taken off the air as part of the legal settlement.