Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson extracted concessions from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), helping the California Republican to get the votes he needed from MAGA members of his caucus to become Speaker of the House, according to text messages obtained by Insider.
On Jan. 3, as McCarthy struggled to corral the votes he needed on the first day of the new Congress, Carlson made two demands on his prime time Fox News show.
Carlson claimed McCarthy could win the speakership if he released footage from the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot — which the former anchor falsely and repeatedly alleged was a peaceful protest. He also believed that McCarthy could seize the gavel if he appointed Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to lead the new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
More than a dozen far-right Republicans refused to vote for McCarthy for days and forced a historic 15 rounds of votes.
Eventually, both of Carlson’s demands were met.
After McCarthy finally got enough votes to become speaker he gave Carlson and his producers exclusive access to over 40,000 hours of Jan. 6 tape. The tapes later gave Carlson an opportunity to try and reinforce his false narrative that the Jan. 6 attack was nothing more than a bunch of peaceful “sightseers” touring the Capitol building with police escorts.
And on Jan. 11, Massie announced he’d be on the so-called “weaponization” committee.
“McCarthy is taking our recommendation and putting him in charge of the new Church committee,” Carlson said of Massie in a text to Abby Grossberg, a former producer on his show who is now suing Fox News alleging a hostile workplace and accusing the network of pressuring her into giving misleading testimony about their coverage of Dominion. “That’s a win.”
But before the concessions came together, McCarthy had to win the speakership and Carlson tried to use his Fox News show to broker a deal live on the air.
On Jan. 5, Carlson wanted to have Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — one of the last holdouts in the speaker election — and McCarthy on his show with the intention of brokering the deal between them. He told his producer, Grossberg, that McCarthy “would be a cowardly idiot not to” appear on his show, but still viewed him as “the only option” for House speaker.
Gaetz agreed to appear on the show, but McCarthy held out — even after Carlson promised not to ask questions about McCarthy’s relationship with GOP pollster Frank Luntz, according to text messages.
“Please tell them I promise I won’t mention Frank Luntz,” Carlson told Grossberg, who had to book McCarthy. “I’ve done that repeatedly. I don’t need to do it again. This interview isn’t about that.”
McCarthy continued to refuse Carlson’s invitation even after the two had a phone conversation, according to the text messages Insider obtained as well as a lawsuit Grossberg filed earlier this year.
The next day, Carlson instructed Grossberg to book Massie for the show. Massie had already pushed for McCarthy as House speaker in previous rounds, but Carlson thought he could help convince Gaetz and the other few holdouts over to McCarthy’s side.
Carlson later told Grossberg that McCarthy agreed to put Massie in charge of the “weaponization committee.”
During the interview Massie said that he “will probably be on that committee, but I can’t say that I will run it” and speculated whether Carlson was “clairvoyant” for demanding that McCarthy place him on the committee to secure the speakership.
On January 7, the House held its 15th vote for House Speaker. Gaetz voted “present,” helping McCarthy cinch the speakership after days of flexing the MAGA wing of the party’s power and obstructing the election.