The "breaking point" between Tucker Carlson and Fox News came after Fox's top brass learned of "highly offensive" private messages sent by the host, including one referring to a senior executive, the New York Times reports. The messages, uncovered through Dominion Voting Systems' defamation trial against Fox, were redacted in legal filings but had been known to Fox lawyers for months. For reasons unclear, the Fox board of directors and top executives reportedly only learned of the details a day before the defamation trial was to begin. This set off "a crisis at the highest level of the company," the Times reports, noting the "crude remarks ... went beyond the inflammatory, often racist comments of his prime-time show and anything disclosed in the lead-up to the trial."
The Times hasn't seen the messages but cites a source as describing one as "particularly offensive." Carlson had called one senior executive the c-word, the Wall Street Journal reports. Yet when Fox's lawyers told Carlson that the comment would be redacted from a legal filing, he "wasn't impressed." According to sources, Carlson told colleagues that he wanted it to be known given his "deep and enduring" dislike of the executive. His "disregard for management and colleagues" was clear in other messages, which executives feared "would lead to further embarrassment for the network and parent company" if they became public, per the Journal.
They still might. Various media outlets are challenging the redactions. Carlson's messages could also come up in Smartmatic's defamation suit against Fox and in producer Abby Grossberg's suit alleging a hostile work environment at Tucker Carlson Tonight. But Carlson may have more to worry about than his messages. "Carlson's indiscretion has exposed him further," the Times reports, noting it's obtained a video in which Carlson is overheard describing a woman as "yummy." In another video, he's heard discussing how "postmenopausal fans" will view his appearance. "Given how polarizing he has been, both inside and outside Fox News, more evidence of embarrassing and inappropriate conduct could emerge," the outlet adds. (More Tucker Carlson stories.)