OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former Fox News star Tucker Carlson dropped his first “Tucker on Twitter” episode this week, and within 24 hours it drew tens of millions of views, but that apparently did not make his former network happy.
According to Axios, lawyers for Fox sent a letter to Carlson’s legal team after the Tuesday show debut claiming that he is still under contract with the network and putting out another program like his Twitter show is a breach. Carlson, meanwhile, has argued that Fox breached his contract, and as such, he is free to do as he pleases.
Fox took Carlson off the air in the latter part of April. He has claimed in the ensuing months that the network broke promises to him, though until the letter was sent to his legal team, his actual status with the network was somewhat unclear.
Carlson’s lawyer has also responded to the letter.
“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 Bryan Freedman, according to Axios.
So far, the episode has garnered more than 103 million views. By comparison, Carlson’s average nightly audience on Fox was a tad more than 3 million, which was tops for the network and all of cable news.
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) June 6, 2023
“In connection with such breach and pursuant to the Agreement, Fox expressly reserves all rights and remedies which are available to it at law or equity,” the Fox News letter said, per Axios.
It also quoted Carlson’s contract, which apparently says, “Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement, Mr. Carlson’s ‘services shall be completely exclusive to Fox.’”
Carlson is thereby “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,'” it adds.
Fox News taking action against Carlson is not likely going to endear the network to its viewers and, in many cases, former viewers, especially since Carlson is the media figure people trust the most for news and information, according to a new poll.
“Carlson topped a list included in a new Gallup survey of leading news media figures and entertainment personalities as part of a survey in which respondents were asked who they trusted most to provide them news,” Gallup reported.
“Carlson had 113 mentions, followed by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow (107) and then Fox News pundit Sean Hannity (57), who was tied with former Daily Show host and comedian Trevor Noah. NBC News anchor Lester Holt placed highest among non-opinion journalists, placing seventh with 55 mentions,” the survey found.
“Now we are going to ask you about the one public individual you watch or follow the most to get information,” the Gallup poll stated. “Public individuals are people who have public influence.”
Another recent survey found that Carlson remains more popular with Americans than his former employer.
The poll by Rasmussen Reports found that Carlson remains popular among conservative and Republican likely voters. “Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Likely U.S. voters have a favorable impression of Carlson, including 36% who have a Very Favorable opinion of him,” the polling firm noted.
“Thirty-four percent (34%) view Carlson unfavorably, including 25% with a Very Unfavorable impression,” the firm added in a release.
Meanwhile, Fox News now has a lower approval from likely voters, with only 52% of voters viewing the network favorably and 24% very favorably, decidedly lower than Carlson’s numbers.
Among likely voters, 42% viewed Fox News unfavorably, with 28% having a very unfavorable view.
When it comes to the impact of Carlson’s firing from the network, only 19 percent of voters thought it would have a positive effect on the network. In contrast, 32 percent believed that his departure would actually lower the quality of the news platform.