Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday accused the network of breaching his contract and announced plans to re-launch his show on Twitter.
Carlson announced that he would bring his show to Twitter two weeks after he was ousted from Fox.
“Starting soon we’ll be bringing a new version of the show we’ve been doing for the last six and a half years to Twitter,” he said in the video. “We bring some other things too, which we’ll tell you about. But for now we’re just grateful to be here. Free speech is the main right that you have. Without it, you have no others.”
The move would appear to violate Carlson’s contract with Fox. The network wants to keep paying Carlson to prevent him from starting a competing show until his $25 million-a-year contract expires in January 2025, according to Axios.
Carlson’s legal team tried to get ahead of any contractual disputes on Tuesday, firing off a letter accusing Fox of fraud and breaching Carlson’s contract themselves.
Carlson lawyer Bryan Freedman argued in the letter to Fox executives Viet Dinh and Irena Briganti that Fox employees, including “Rupert Murdoch himself,” broke promises to Carlson “intentionally and with reckless disregard for the truth.”
The lawyers accused Murdoch and Dinh and making “material representations” to Carlson that were intentionally broken, constituting fraud, according to Axios.
The letter accused Fox of breaking an agreement with Carlson to not leak his private messages and not to use them “to take any adverse employment action against him.”
Carlson’s lawyer also accused Fox of breaking promises not to settle with Dominion Voting Systems “in a way which would indicate wrongdoing” by Carlson and not take any actions in a settlement that would harm Carlson’s reputation.
Carlson was told by a member of the Fox board that he was ousted as part of the Dominion settlement, two sources told Axios.
“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, and intentional and negligent misrepresentation,” the letter said.
A Fox News spokesperson told Axios that it was “categorically false” that Carlson was ousted as part of the Dominion settlement.
“Dominion did not insist on them firing Tucker Carlson as part of the settlement,” an attorney for Dominion told the outlet.
Carlson also accused Briganti, the longtime Fox PR chief, of seeking to “undermine, embarrass, and interfere” with Carlson’s future business prospects.
“Make no mistake, we intend to subpoena Ms. Briganti’s cell phone records and related documents, which evidence communications with her and all media, including, but not limited to The New York Times,” the letter said.
The letter added that Carlson is considering litigation against the network and said Fox News must take immediate steps to “preserve all existing documents and data” related to the company’s relationship with Carlson.
The terms of Carlson’s move to Twitter are unclear. Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who reportedly spoke with Carlson before the announcement and appeared on one of his last episodes on Fox, denied that he and Carlson “have signed a deal of any kind whatsoever.”
“Tucker is subject to the same rules & rewards of all content creators,” he wrote, adding that users can flag any misleading information.
“On this platform, unlike the one-way street of broadcast, people are able to interact, critique and refute whatever is said,” he wrote. “Rewards means subscriptions and advertising revenue share (coming soon), which is a function of how many people subscribe and the advertising views associated with the content,” he added. “I hope that many others, particularly from the left, also choose to be content creators on this platform.”
Nora Benavidez of the progressive non-profit advocacy group Free Press told NPR that Carlson’s move to Musk’s platform “is not even surprising.”
“It’s just the latest in a long line of dangerous actions Musk takes to erode open discourse and public trust surrounding the platform,” she said. “Twitter is becoming a fringe network which places hyper-partisanship, lies, and hate over application of corporate policies and robust trust and safety.”