Lawyers for Fox News told ex-anchor Tucker Carlson that the network was not involved in several leaks that surfaced after he was abruptly fired from his show, the Daily Caller reported. However, some believe this is simply an effort to throw Carlson and his supporters off the scent.
Late last month, Carlson was unceremoniously ousted from his own "Tucker Carlson Tonight" program. There is still no explanation for the change as the network hemorrhages viewers in that time slot.
Meanwhile, text messages and candid clips of Carlson have been leaking into the media in what appears to be an attempt to disparage Carlson. Because of the nature of the data, many have speculated it was someone at the network or very close to it.
In an apparent attempt to hedge against such accusations, Fox News’ Chief Legal Counsel Viet Dinh allegedly reached out on May 3 to one of Carlson's close contacts in a phone call. Dinh claimed that the network had "not authorized" the release of materials the ended up in the media.
According to two sources close to the matter, Dihn also made it clear that Irena Briganti, head of Fox News Public Relations, was told she'd be "fired" if she was found to be at the center of the leaks. Moreover, Dinh said the leaks likely came from someone on the network's board of directors.
A source claims that Carlson already suspected hedge fund manager Anne Dias or former GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, though Carlson has since cleared the latter. They were considered the likely culprits as they were appointed to the board in March 2019.
Carlson's attorney Bryan Freedman has called the released materials a "smear campaign" against the former host. "It strains credulity that, immediately after agreeing to pay almost $780 million to settle serious allegations of misconduct, that a member of Fox’s Board of Directors would be engaging in an attempted smear campaign by illegally leaking information about Tucker Carlson," he asserted.
"However, we have to trust that it is true when the Chief Legal Officer informs Tucker that he believes it to be the case." In a letter to Dinh and Briganti, Carlson claimed Fox breached his contract with the release of unflattering clips.
The media was apoplectic after a clip surfaced that supposedly showed Carlson harassing a female employee, though many supporters saw it as workplace banter. Still, the intention behind it seems to be to create a narrative that he deserved to be let go.
Attorneys for Carlson further asserted that Rupert Murdoch and Dinh had intentionally smeared their client in direct violation of his contract. "These actions not only breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the Agreement but give rise to claims for breach of contract," the letter stated, adding it was "intentional and negligent misrepresentation."
Fox has denied any connection to the leaks. Brigante further backed up that claim by providing the Caller with letters, including a cease and desist to Media Matters, which released the behind-the-scenes clips of a candid Carlson. Another was a letter to Dominion accusing the company that received the settlement from Fox of releasing messages revealed in legal proceedings.
Dominion has publicly denied those allegations, of course. However, many who are witnessing this all unfold believe that the network is trying to deflect from blame for its own antics following Carlson's ouster.
The backlash against Fox has been swift and severe. Carlson's former time slot plummeted in viewership without Carlson, while Fox News's premium platform is losing subscribers, and it appears the network is trying to cover its tracks.
It's unclear exactly what happened in this transaction on either side that led to Carlson's firing. However, the situation unfolding ever since gives more credence to the smears originating from someone who has a reason to destroy him while justifying his ouster.