Watch CBS News

Ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson texted producer "It's not how white men fight," report says

Massive media shakeup
Fox News and Tucker Carlson part ways and Don Lemon says he was fired from CNN 05:15

Washington — Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson made an inflammatory, racist comment in a text message to a producer about a video that showed a group of "Trump guys" attacking "an Antifa kid," writing in the message that "it's not how white men fight," according to the New York Times.

The message, sent on Jan. 7, 2021, is among the communications included in redacted court filings that were part of Dominion Voting Systems' now-settled defamation case against Fox News. The text from Carlson remains shielded from the public, but the New York Times reported Tuesday that the contents of the message "were disclosed in interviews with several people close to the defamation lawsuit against Fox."

Neither Fox News nor an attorney for Carlson immediately returned a request for comment.

According to the Times, Carlson wrote in the message: "A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living s**t out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It's not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they'd hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it."

He continued: "Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn't good for me. I'm becoming something I don't want to be. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I'm sure I'd hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn't gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don't care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?"

The New York Times reported that the message "alarmed" Fox's board of directors and contributed to the decision to sever ties with the popular host of the primetime show "Tucker Carlson Tonight." The paper said the board learned of Carlson's text the day before the trial between Dominion and Fox News was set to begin, though the Delaware judge overseeing the case delayed its start by a day.

Carlson was among the Fox hosts who was expected to be called to testify during the trial, but Fox and Dominion settled the case on April 18, with the cable news giant agreeing to pay the electronic voting company $787.5 million. Days after the dispute was resolved, Fox announced it and Carlson had parted ways.

"We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor," the network said in a statement. It offered no further details about his departure.

Troves of internal communications exchanged among Fox's top hosts, producers and executives were turned over and made public as part of Dominion's lawsuit against the network, though some of the messages remain redacted. Earlier in the Jan. 7, 2021, exchange where Carlson describes the video of the fight, he writes in an unredacted text that Trump is a "demonic force" and a "destroyer." 

The text message that alarmed Fox executives was redacted in court filings in the Dominion case, according to the New York Times.
The text message that alarmed Fox executives was redacted in court filings in the Dominion case, according to the New York Times. Court filing/Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News

In another message made public during the proceedings, Carlson called Sidney Powell, a conservative lawyer who pushed baseless claims the 2020 presidential election was rigged, a "f**king b***." 

Carlson, whose 8 p.m. show on Fox garnered more than 3 million viewers nightly, frequently came under fire for his demeaning comments about immigrants, people of color and women. He and Fox News are also facing a lawsuit from a former producer, Abby Grossberg, who alleges she experienced a sexist and hostile environment while working for Carlson's show and the network.

A Fox News spokesperson told CBS News in a statement last week that the network "engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review. Her allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless and we will continue to vigorously defend Fox against her unmeritorious legal claims which are riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.