Donald Trump Jr. is accusing Fox News of trying to keep Tucker Carlson “muzzled” ahead of the 2024 election after reports surfaced that the network sent a letter to Carlson’s legal team, alleging the former Fox host was in breach of his contract.
Carlson was ousted from Fox News in April but came back with a bang on Tuesday after releasing the first episode of his own show over Twitter, gaining more than 94.2 million views in the first 24 hours it was live. Carlson used the 10-minute episode to offer his theory on who was behind the explosion of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam, which was destroyed Tuesday morning.
According to a report from Axios on Wednesday, however, Fox News general counsel Bernard Gugar sent a letter to Carlson’s team shortly after his video went public, writing that “Mr. Carlson’s services shall be completely exclusive to Fox,” based off Carlson’s contract with the network that was signed in November 2019.
Part of Gugar’s letter, which was obtained by Axios, also read that Carlson 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.”
If Carlson did breach his contract with Fox News, it could set up the network to take legal action against its former host. But Carlson’s lawyers told Axios that any lawsuit would be an infringement on his First Amendment rights.
“Fox defends its very existence on freedom of speech grounds,” Bryan Freedman, who is representing Carlson, told Axios. “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.”
Trump Jr., eldest son of former President Donald Trump who has previously supported Carlson since his split from the network, also rebuffed reports of Fox News’ letter, writing on Twitter, “What a disgrace.”
“They’re trying to keep Tucker muzzled through the 2024 election!!!” Trump Jr. added.
Carlson and the former president have been publicly fond of each other in the past, including since Carlson was ousted from Fox. After news spread of Carlson’s firing, Trump wrote on Truth Social that he was “shocked” by the decision and called Carlson “a very good person and very good man.”
It’s not entirely clear what led to Carlson’s abrupt departure from Fox News, but his firing did occur roughly a week after the network reached a $787.5 million defamation lawsuit settlement with Dominion Voting Systems for broadcasting false and misleading claims about voting integrity during the 2020 presidential election. The New York Times reported last month that some of Carlson’s text messages that surfaced during Fox News’ legal battle with Dominion also contributed to a “chain of events” that ultimately led to Carlson’s firing.
Axios also previously reported that Carlson is being “held” to his contract at Fox News until it is set to expire in January 2025, as Fox wants to keep paying him to prevent him from starting a competing show.
Newsweek has reached out via email to Carlson’s lawyers for further information.
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