NEWSMAX: Tucker Carlson is planning to “torch” Fox News in an effort to free himself from a contract that blocks him from working at other networks — or to even create a rival network to Fox.
There is talk Carlson could get behind a new media enterprise backed by billionaire Elon Musk who has had conversations with Carlson about a new media company, Axios reported.
“The idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous,” Carlson’s Hollywood lawyer Bryan Freedman told Axios.
Freedman is reportedly working on an settlement for Carlson with Fox News, which is said to have a noncompete roadblock on Carlson’s $10 million-per-year contract that runs until after the 2024 presidential election.
The noncompete and nondisparagement clauses in contracts like Carlson’s prevent him from working at competitive networks or even criticizing his former network.
Fox traditionally has had major talent contracts renew after presidential elections and that rule seems to have been followed with Carlson’s agreement.
But Carlson is said to be eager to back on television as soon as possible, according to sources. To do so, he needs to get Fox to waive key provisions of his agreement.
“There are circumstances where pay-or-play provisions can be challenged, but networks and studios certainly view them as being relatively ironclad,” entertainment lawyer Andy Lee, not connected to the Carlson-Fox circumstances, told The New York Times.
“It’s not always just a question of money, because being off the air for an extended period can have an adverse effect on a career.”
Fox Getting Crushed in Ratings War
Newsmax is a key competitor to Fox News and permitting Carlson to take his estimated 3.5 million loyal viewers to a rival is problematic for Fox News, the Times reported.
The betting among industry observers is that Fox will continue to pay Carlson his multi-million dollar contract as long as he sits on the sidelines.
Since Carlson departed Fox two weeks ago from his 8 p.m. Eastern perch, ratings for Newsmax’s “Eric Bolling The Balance” airing at the same time are up over 200% — as the networks’ overall ratings are up over 100%, according to Nielsen.
“An agreement that allows Mr. Carlson to appear on a rival news network like Newsmax would be a considerable concession from Fox,” according to the Times’ report.
“In any agreement, Fox would most likely insist on prohibiting Mr. Carlson from joining a cable news competitor, said a person familiar with how negotiations with big Fox stars have unfolded in the past.”
Former Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Trish Regan, and Don Bongino are all operating as independent media currently.
Tucker Carlson Being Censored by Fox
A campaign to push Fox News to stop the censorship of Carlson, including blocking him until his contract expires January 2025, is expected to kick up now, according to Axios.
The fight to keep Carlson locked into his agreement already appears ugly.
Carlson supporters say Fox is already engaging in a vicious smear campaign using leaked texts and video clips of their former host, painting him as a misogynist and racist.
Now Carlson’s side appears to be preparing to release damaging information on Fox.
A Carlson source told Axios the host “knows where a lot of bodies are buried, and is ready to start drawing a map.”
While Axios did not say Carlson himself would make disparaging comments about Fox, his camp is prepping to use surrogate media and social media influencers.
Axios says Carlson’s team is already besieged by allies asking how they can help the fired host.
“They’re coming to him and saying: ‘Do you want me to hit Fox?”’ a close Carlson friend told Axios.
“He’s been saying: ‘No. I want to get this done quiet and clean.’
“Now, we’re going from peacetime to Defcon 1,” the friend added. “His team is preparing for war. He wants his freedom.”
Amid leaks to Media Matters, The New York Times and other left-wing outlets, Megyn Kelly has been leading the charge against Fox News, saying her former employer is perpetrating a “destruction campaign” to undermine Carlson’s value for other networks.
Kelly has accused Fox’s head of communications, Irena Briganti, for a spate of leaks aimed at their former No. 1 primetime host.
Briganti has denied the allegations, but Fox has long sanctioned her activities of targeting current and former employees with negative media leaks that go back over many years, according to Kelly and other published reports.
“My audience is calling them #Foxweiser,” Kelly said, likening the crusade against the network to the boycotts underway against Bud Light.