Kate Riga and I discussed this during the podcast today — for scheduling reasons we recorded one day early this week. But so many of you have asked me this question that I wanted to address it here in the Ed Blog. The question is this: Is it possible that Tucker Carlson’s termination was a non-public part of Fox’s settlement agreement with Dominion? I have no inside information. But I’m pretty sure the answer is no.
The main issue here is logic. Dominion has two things it wanted — to repair its reputation and money. The outcome of the case suggested — not surprisingly — that the most important thing was money. In fairness to Dominion, the facts that were made public in the pleadings probably repaired their reputation as much as it could be.
The relevant point is that Dominion doesn’t give a crap about Tucker Carlson. Even on the merits, he wasn’t the worst offender in terms of defaming them. In fact, his most damning role in the litigation was as an in-house fact witness — through private communications — that the whole Dominion vote rigging storyline was BS.
So again, Dominion doesn’t give a crap about Tucker Carlson.
It’s conceivable that a public agreement to fire Carlson could have in some way been of value to Dominion as underlining just how wrong Fox had been and how big a price they had to pay. That’s a stretch. But I guess that’s conceivable. Doing it secretly makes zero sense.
I was surprised Dominion didn’t require Fox to make some kind of on air apology. But since the verdict came out it’s become more clear to me that both for insurance reasons and because of still pending litigation that was always going to be almost impossible for Fox to agree to. In the conversations money was probably negotiable while an apology or admission of wrongdoing was not.
I’ve seen a few lawyers react to this claim by saying, no that’s not how it works. It’s possible there’s some legal reason this couldn’t be the case. That’s outside my expertise. But for the reasons I note here I feel pretty confident the answer to the question is no. For whatever reason, Fox — and really Rupert Murdoch — made this decision on his own, not because it was anything Dominion required of him.