A flood of reporting in the aftermath of Tucker Carlson’s abrupt exit from Fox News suggested that allegations outlined in lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and a former producer who worked for his most-watched programme likely played a role in a decision to “part ways” with the host, as the network described it.
Now, speculation about the future of other Fox stars has been growing among pundits and media reporters in the aftermath of his apparent firing and the massive $787m settlement with Dominion, announced after a jury was already sworn in for what would have been a blockbuster trial against the right-wing media behemoth.
If that litigation played a role in Carlson’s exit from Fox News, analysts and pundits are left questioning how other figures who were central to the Dominion case have thus far avoided similar fates. The Daily Beast flatly asked in its headline, “How Does Maria Bartiromo Still Work at Fox News?”
Former Fox host Megyn Kelly said recently on her radio programme that Carlson’s firing is “a massive misjudgment of what their audience wants.”
“If … this is a reaction to the Dominion lawsuit, why is Maria Bartiromo there? Why is Jeanine Pirro still there? Why is Suzanne Scott still there?” she said.
Bartiromo and Pirro were key boosters of false claims about Dominion in the 2020 election; filings in the case showed that Pirro planned an opening monologue full of baseless statements about the company, called “rife with conspiracy theories and BS” and “another example why this woman should never be on live television” by another Fox producer, according to court documents.
Fox also removed Pirro from the airwaves after the election because leadership did not believe she could be honest about the outcome, according to Dominion’s filings.
Bartiromo is also among defendants in a separate defamation lawsuit from voting technology company Smartmatic, and she is captured on recordings made by Abby Grossberg, a former producer on programmes hosted by Bartiromo and Carlson.
Recordings include off-air conversations with Rudy Giuliani, who admitted knowing very little about Dominion and had difficulty defending false claims that the company was involved with election fraud.
Another recording includes a conversation between Bartiromo and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who outlines a scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Media reporter Brian Stelter, the author of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth and upcoming Network of Lies, told The Daily Beast that be believes “other personalities will be leaving in the months to come,” adding that he fallout from the Dominion case is far from over.
The Independent requested comment from Fox regarding speculation about other terminations.
Not just Tucker: Other Fox figures were removed from the network
In depositions in the Dominion case, News Corporation chair Rupert Murdoch acknowledged that hosts on his network – Bartiromo, Pirro and Lou Dobbs – elevated those election lies.
Dobbs, who uncritically gave election conspiracy theorists Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani a platform on his Fox programme, was removed from the network in February 2021.
Dominion’s filings reveal Fox leadership, producers and on-air personalities privately debunking election lies and ridiculing conspiracy theorists and the Fox hosts who gave them airtime. Dobbs ran several segments devoted to them.
He aired a segment based on a provably false tweet from then-President Trump about votes being switched to Joe Biden, prompting Fox Business News President Lauren Petterson to say in an email: “Jesus Christ. Does anyone do a f***ing simple Google search or read emails?”
Tony Fratto, a former deputy White House press secretary under George W Bush and a communications consultant to Dominion, wrote directly to Fox executives on 16 November 2020, warning that the network’s promotion of election lies “is crossing dangerous lines.”
That same night, he forwarded part of a transcript from Dobbs’ broadcast to Fox News president Jay Wallace.
“More f****ing lies, he wrote. “Honestly. He is a disgrace.”
Earlier this month, Dobbs and Fox News also settled a separate defamation lawsuit over false claims that a Venezuelan businessman helped execute an “electoral 9-11” and a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” as Dobbs wrote on Twitter.
Justin Wells – a now-former producer on Tucker Carlson Tonight – was also fired along with Carlson this week.
Wells was mentioned throughout a lawsuit from Abby Grossberg, a former producer at Tucker Carlson Tonight who was fired after filing her complaint against the company and Carlson himself.
Ms Grossberg’s lawsuit, filed in US District Court in New York last month, alleges that Carlson’s “derogatory comments towards women, and his disdain for those who dare to object to such misogyny, is well known” on the set of his Tucker Carlson Tonight.
The claims in her lawsuit allege a much larger state of toxic dysfunction, workplace harassment, retaliation and casual bigotry at the programme and inside Fox News.
A statement from Fox News to The Independent following her lawsuit said the company “engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review.”
Media reports in the wake of Carlson’s exit from the network have also pointed to vulgar messages aimed at other Fox News employees that were redacted in court filings, which attorneys for Dominion allegedly sought to use in their questioning against Carlson on the witness stand, in the event that the defamation case actually went to trial.
Dominion’s filings show Carlson privately insulting guests on the network who advanced false claims about the company, including Donald Trump, while providing a massive platform for spurious attempts to overturn election results.
In one message, Carlson calls Powell a “f****** b****”.
Last year, when she sat for a deposition in the Dominion lawsuit, a lawyer for Dominion showed Ms Grossberg the message. When asked how she felt about that language or if she heard that language from Carlson, Ms Grossberg said she had only just started working for his programme and declined to speculate how she would react, according to her complaint.
The day after her deposition, on 14 September, 2022, an email was sent to the Tucker Carlson Tonight staff in recognition of “Abby Day” for defending the host.
Wells later confirmed that he was the person who received Carlson’s message, according to her complaint.
The Independent has requested comment from Ms Grossberg’s legal team.