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Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, Abby Grossberg And The Railroading Of Tucker Carlson
How the greatest cable news show in history came to a sudden end
Tucker Carlson’s abrupt termination from Fox News on Monday morning was a shockwave that upended the media landscape and the conservative movement.
Carlson was the network’s highest rated host and arguably their top draw. He had recently conducted exclusive interviews with both Donald Trump and Elon Musk, and given a rousing, well-received keynote address for the Heritage Foundation’s 50th anniversary dinner on Friday night (which, full disclosure, I attended).
The last moment of Tucker Carlson Tonight was a shot of him eating pizza with a hero delivery driver who stopped a carjacker. His signoff? “We’ll see you on Monday.”
The termination left nearly everyone, myself included, stunned and asking the key question: what happened? I’m hardly the only person who views Tucker as a once-in-a-generation media talent and his show as one of the most successful of all time. I started asking some questions, and got some very interesting answers.
A Fox News’ statement said that the two sides “agreed to part ways,” but I learned that the departure was anything but mutual.
I spoke to several sources that include current and former Fox News employees, as well as others closely familiar with the events that transpired. They all told me the same thing: Tucker Carlson Tonight was brought down from within the network. The show and its host were completely sabotaged.
The Dinner and the Speech
Rupert Murdoch, the 92 year old media mogul who runs Fox Corp, is the man at the center of this saga. Several people I spoke with said that the decision to fire Carlson came straight from Murdoch and left both Tucker and his staff completely blindsided on Monday morning. His management of News Corp and Fox Corp had become increasingly erratic and one of my sources described him as a “crazy old man.”
In particular, it was Tucker Carlson’s frequent invocation of religion and his own religious faith that unnerved Murdoch and left him aggrieved. On Tuesday, Vanity Fair reported that Tucker’s widely acclaimed speech at the Heritage Foundation 50th anniversary gala was a major factor in Murdoch’s sudden decision to terminate him. The speech had religious overtones, and Carlson spoke of the current political moment as being a spiritual battle of good vs. evil. You can watch the speech here. A source told the outlet “that stuff freaks Rupert out. He doesn’t like all the spiritual talk.”
The Vanity Fair story also mentions a dinner Carlson attended in late March with Murdoch and his then fiancée Ann Lesley Smith (Smith, 66, would have been Murdoch’s fifth wife). Tucker was allegedly Smith’s favorite host and once described him as a “messenger from God.” The two apparently discussed religion at the dinner, with Smith at one point pulling out a Bible, leaving Murdoch “freaked out.”
A week after this dinner, Murdoch called off his engagement. A month later, Fox fired Carlson.
Vanity Fair are usually nothing more than liberal hacks but in this case, I can confirm that their reporting is accurate. Multiple sources familiar with the matter tell me that what is described in the story about the dinner with Murdoch and his now fiancée suggesting Tucker is a prophet is completely real. Glenn Beck also spoke on Wednesday about how Rupert Murdoch once counted the number of times he invoked God on the air when he was a host on Fox News.
In addition, the New York Times claimed Wednesday evening that Fox executives discovered, the night before the Dominion trial was supposed to start, “offensive and crude” text messages Carlson had sent “setting off a crisis” at the network. A person with firsthand knowledge tells me that senior Fox executives knew about these texts since at least last year. Another person with knowledge of the litigation backs this up, telling me that Fox and their lawyers would have been the ones in charge of producing communications for Dominion before Tucker did his deposition last August.
A source told me that these texts and the videos that the New York Times alludes to possessing in the article are just the beginning of Fox’s “oppo file” on Tucker that was first reported by Rolling Stone.
The Lawsuit and the Lies
Others in the media are claiming that the reason for Carlson’s termination was a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former employee, Abby Grossberg.
Grossberg is seeking damages from Fox News, Fox Corp, Carlson, his former executive producer, and others for what she claims was a hostile and discriminatory work environment. In a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC’s Deadline White House, she told Nicolle Wallace that Tucker “made my life a living hell.”
As I reported shortly after her appearance on MSNBC, Grossberg never once met Tucker Carlson during her entire time working for his show. She worked out of the Fox offices in New York City, while Tucker has been consistently working out of his homes in Florida and Maine. Grossberg’s lawyer later admitted this fact in a statement to the Spectator.
But there’s more to the story than that alone.
After Grossberg was terminated by the company, Fox said the reason for her firing was because she revealed privileged information she was not authorized to disclose during her Dominion deposition (which stemmed from her time working for Maria Baritoromo).
While that incident certainly played a role, I’m also told by a person familiar that Grossberg was a severely underperforming employee and not competent in her work. My source also said that she had received a negative performance review, documented and dates from before she and knew she would imminently be fired for it at which point she began making her complaints.
“She set out to be a victim,” the person said.
Of the complaints themselves, a source involved in the investigation told me this: “Fox could not find a single employee willing to corroborate any of her claims or characterizations.” Multiple sources told me they were baffled by her characterizations of the environment in the office in her lawsuit.
A former Fox employee who worked on a different show also told me that it was easy for producers to transfer to a new show if they were running into problems with their current one. “Anytime you wanted to transfer they would honor it,” they said.
Reasonable people may wonder how a person could go from working for Maria Baritoromo and Tucker Carlson to filing a lawsuit against Fox and doing interviews with liberal media trashing them.
Well, a source with direct knowledge tells me that Fox executives had the opportunity to settle with Grossberg to protect the show but didn’t do it, leaving her to attack Carlson and his team with gross mischaracterizations and false accusations. “They paid $787M to Dominion but couldn’t lift a finger to protect their highest rated host,” this person said.
The Heart of the Matter
At the end of the day, I think it all boils down to this: Tucker was so successful that he became bigger than Fox. He commanded a powerful megaphone, and used it to talk about issues that no one else on cable news would. His show became a movement that couldn’t be controlled, and the top brass at Fox were simply tired of it.
A spokesperson for Fox had no comment on this story, simply pointing back to the statement they released on Monday.
Grossberg’s lawyer, a donor to Act Blue and the Biden Victory Fund, told me a comment that she “never received a negative performance evaluation while employed at Fox and was never informed that she was being fired until she was actually fired, unlawfully for filing two lawsuits.”