Fox News on Wednesday told attorneys for Tucker Carlson that the former host violated his contract with the network after he launched his own show on Twitter, according to Axios, which obtained a copy of the letter. After removing Tucker from his prime-time slot and parting way, Fox continued to hold Tucker's contract over his head - which stipulates that he isn't allowed to appear on another network until after the 2024 election.
Carlson's Tuesday premiere currently gained 10 million views in two hours, and is currently sitting at 105 million views. On the other hand, Fox News on Tuesday had just over 1.57 million prime time viewers, according to Adweek. So Carlson is clearly smoking his former employer.
The breach of contract claim suggests Fox News is exploring legal action against Carlson, however in May, Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted that Twitter and Carlson had "not signed a deal of any kind whatsoever," meaning Carlson is self-publishing.
According to Carlson's lawyers, any legal action by Fox would violate his First Amendment rights.
"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 Carlson's lawyer, Bryan Freedman, in a statement to Axios.
Since Carlson's ouster in April following Fox News' $787 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems (which Carlson says a board member told him was part of the settlement), Carlson has accused Fox of fraud, accusing senior executives of reneging on promises made to him "intentionally and with reckless disregard for the truth."
Carlson's legal team have also argued that Fox broke their promise to him not to settle with Dominion "in a way which would indicate wrongdoing" on the part of the former host.
More via Axios:
Shortly after Carlson posted the first episode of his new show on Twitter Tuesday evening, Fox News general counsel Bernard Gugar sent a letter to Carlson’s lawyers saying Carlson "is in breach" of his contract agreement.
- "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 letter refers to Carlson's contract, which was originally signed on November 8, 2019 and amended on February 16, 2021.
- "This evening we were made aware of Mr. Tucker Carlson’s appearance on Twitter in a video that lasted over 10 minutes," the letter read.
- "Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement, Mr. Carlson’s 'services shall be completely exclusive to Fox,'" it continues, quoting Carlson's contract.
- It adds that Carlson's contract says he is "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.'"
According to a source familiar with Carlson's legal team, Tucker's camp says the claim is BS because Twitter does not directly compete with Fox News. Meanwhile, Carlson has been leveraging allies such as quarterback Brett Favre to pressure the network into letting him out of his contract.