Fox News Accuses Tucker Carlson of Breach of Contract After He Launches Twitter Show

AP Photo/Richard Drew

Tucker Carlson recently returned to the public eye with the launch of his new show on Twitter. The relatively short monologue was posted on Tuesday and garnered tens of millions of views within hours. It was a show of force by Carlson, and a signal that he had put himself back in the game.

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Broadcasting on Twitter was also assumed to be the only way Carlson could return given his ongoing contract dispute with Fox News. His former employer apparently disagrees, though. According to Axios, which obtained a letter sent from Fox News to Carlson, the former top-rated cable news host is being accused of breach of contract.

Fox News Wednesday notified Tucker Carlson’s lawyers that the former prime-time anchor violated his contract with the network when he launched his own Twitter show on Tuesday, according to a copy of a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: A breach of contract claim sets Fox News up to explore potential legal action against Carlson, a move that would intensify the already thorny public battle between the two parties.

Carlson’s lawyers told Axios that any legal action by Fox would violate his First Amendment rights.

“Fox defends its very existence on freedom of speech grounds. 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,” said Carlson’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, in a statement to Axios.

In layman’s terms, Carlson’s original argument was that his contract didn’t cover his personal social media account. Therefore, his lawyers believe he has a First Amendment right to say what he wants to say on Twitter. On the other hand, Fox News sees his monologues on Twitter as competition, and they obviously want to shut that down.

Further, there’s no doubt Fox News would like to recoup some of the money they owe Carlson over the next two years that his contract is still in force. By pushing the issue, they may feel they have a legal claim to do just that.

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Still, I don’t really understand the strategy here by Fox News. The juice doesn’t seem worth the squeeze. Sure, they might be able to muzzle Carlson until his contract expires (or extract money out of him), but in doing so, they could end up further alienating an already diminished audience. Carlson was the marquee driver of viewers to the network, and with him gone, things are already running at a deficit. Continuing to publicly attack him in ways that will seem petty to normal people won’t help that situation, and could actually drive more people away from Fox News.

Fox News needs to figure out what it wants to be and stick to that. They aren’t going to regain viewers with legal battles, and Jekyll and Hyde coverage. If they want to be CNN-lite, go for it and see how it works out. Otherwise, there needs to be some kind of coherent leadership and vision. Right now, the network is flailing, and I think it’s only going to hurt them in the long run.

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