It’s been a day since Fox News shockingly canned Tucker Carlson, and they still haven’t explained why. The conspiracy theory-loving host was their biggest star, so the reason must be a good one. Did it have something to do with the Dominion lawsuit? The Abby Grossberg lawsuits? His casual sexism? Who knows. But a new report suggests the reason may be far, far pettier than any of this.
A source tells Vanity Fair that the decision came right from the top, which is to say from Rupert Murdoch. On Friday night, Carlson delivered a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a speech that teemed with religious overtones. He painted a bleak portrait of America, which he said was locked in a battle between “good” and “evil” over issues like (of course) trans people. But he said mere debating won’t solve the problem. The answer, he said, was praying.
That didn’t sit right with Murdoch, the source said. “That stuff freaks Rupert out,” they claimed. “He doesn’t like all the spiritual talk.”
But it’s not just that Murdoch is skeeved out by religious talk. For him, it was personal:
Rupert Murdoch was perhaps unnerved by Carlson’s messianism because it echoed the end-times worldview of Murdoch’s ex-fiancée Ann Lesley Smith, the source said. In my May cover story, I reported that Murdoch and Smith called off their two-week engagement because Smith had told people Carlson was “a messenger from God.” Murdoch had seen Carlson and Smith discuss religion firsthand. In late March, Carlson had dinner at Murdoch’s Bel Air vineyard with Murdoch and Smith, according to the source. During dinner, Smith pulled out a bible and started reading passages from the Book of Exodus, the source said. “Rupert just sat there and stared,” the source said. A few days after the dinner, Murdoch and Smith called off the wedding. By taking Carlson off the air, Murdoch was also taking away his ex’s favorite show.
So did Tucker Carlson lose his third big-time media gig because Rupert Murdoch wanted to get revenge on his latest ex, a Tucker superfan? Crazier things have happened. Indeed, if true it’s so wild that even the Succession writers room couldn’t dream up a twist this outlandish.
There’s one other strange detail buried in the report: A source claims Tucker “wasn’t even fired and remains on the Fox News payroll.” If that’s legit, then perhaps Fox News is trying to avoid another lawsuit. Or maybe they just don’t want him appearing anywhere else just yet.
(Via Vanity Fair)