Carlson and Lemon both made abrupt exits from their respective cable news networks on Monday. Trump delighted in Lemon’s departure from “Fake News CNN” almost immediately on Truth Social, slamming the former anchor as “the dumbest man on television.”
Trump took a far different tone when weighing in on Carlson during an interview with Newsmax host Greg Kelly later on Monday, praising the former Tucker Carlson Tonight host and saying that he was “shocked” by the decision.
“I’m shocked,” Trump said. “I’m surprised. He’s a very good person and very good man. And very talented, as you know, he had very high ratings. So, we’re just learning about it almost as we speak … that was something, that’s a big one.”
“I don’t know if it was voluntary, or was it somebody fired?” he continued. “But I think Tucker has been terrific. He’s been, especially over the last year or so, he’s been terrific to me.”
Kelly asked the former president why he thought that Carlson would have exited Fox News amid “turmoil” at the network, which last week settled a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems for a staggering $787.5 million.
The lawsuit was based on Fox News hosts like Carlson spreading false claims that Dominion was involved in a plot to “steal” the 2020 presidential election from Trump.
“I was surprised that they made a settlement in that case,” Trump said. “I thought that was a case that should easily be won. And they made a settlement … But the Tucker situation … Maybe he left because he wasn’t being given his free rein.”
Lemon has been singled out for scorn by the former president before. Trump first called Lemon “the dumbest man on television” last year after CNN dropped the primetime show Don Lemon Tonight.
Following their unexpected exits from cable news, Carlson and Lemon both reportedly retained the services of high-profile entertainment lawyer Bryan Freedman on Monday.
Newsweek has reached out to Freedman via his website for comment.
Although Carlson hosted the most popular pro-Trump opinion show on television, text messages released as part of the Dominion lawsuit revealed this year indicate that his thoughts on the former president were very different in private.
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Carlson told producers that he hated Trump “passionately,” called him a “demonic force” and said that there wasn’t “really an upside” to the former president.
Carlson later attempted to walk back the text messages in an interview with right-wing radio host Bo Snerdley, insisting, “I love Trump.” He said that he was “enraged” that the messages were released and had received a call from a “wounded” Trump.
“I said this to Trump when he called me, you know, all wounded about those texts,” said Carlson. “That was a moment in time where I was absolutely infuriated … and those were all grabbed completely illegitimately, in my opinion.”
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