Documents released in recent weeks as part of a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems have revealed extraordinary private communications and depositions from the network’s star hosts and executives. In those statements, many of them expressed disbelief about President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, even though the network continued to promote many of those lies on the air.
Regardless of the outcome of the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in April, one host in particular — Tucker Carlson — appears to have a tricky road to navigate with his audience. In his private messages, Mr. Carlson, who generally provides strong support of Republicans on the air, repeatedly showed contempt for Mr. Trump and some of his closest aides.
Here are five examples from the documents:
Nov. 6, 2020
1. On Trump’s Business History
As votes were being counted in the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Carlson texted with his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, fretting about viewers turning away from Fox News after the network called Arizona for President Biden.
Alex Pfeiffer: Trump has a pretty low rate at success in his business ventures.
Tucker Carlson: That’s for sure. All of them fail. What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that.
Nov. 10, 2020
2. On Trump’s Plan to Skip Biden’s Inauguration
A staff member texted Mr. Carlson to say they’d heard Mr. Trump was planning not to attend the inauguration, an important symbol of the peaceful transfer of power.
Carlson: I’d heard that about the inauguration. Hard to believe. So destructive.
Carlson: It’s disgusting. I’m trying to look away.
Nov. 23, 2020
3. On His Interactions With Trump’s Team Over Sidney Powell, a Trump Lawyer
Mr. Carlson texts with the Fox News host Laura Ingraham about Sidney Powell, a lawyer for Mr. Trump and one of the biggest promoters of the unfounded election fraud claims.
Carlson: I had to try to make the WH disavow her, which they obviously should have done long before.
Laura Ingraham: No serious lawyer could believe what they were saying.
Carlson: But they said nothing in public. Pretty disgusting. And now Trump, I learned this morning, is sitting back and letting them lose the senate. He doesn’t care. I care.
Jan. 4, 2021
4. On His Desire to Move On From Trump
Mr. Carlson texts with members of his staff, two months after the 2020 election and two days before the insurrection at the Capitol building, about looking forward to not having to cover Mr. Trump.
Carlson: We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.
Carlson: I hate him passionately.
Jan. 7, 2021
5. On the Aftermath of the Capitol Riots
After the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Mr. Carlson texts with Mr. Pfeiffer about Mr. Trump’s culpability in the insurrection and how to deal with viewers who still support him. It was two weeks before the inauguration of President Biden.
Carlson: Trump has two weeks left. Once he’s out, he becomes incalculably less powerful, even in the minds of his supporters.
Carlson: He’s a demonic force, a destroyer. But he’s not going to destroy us. I’ve been thinking about this every day for four years.
Pfeiffer: You’re right. I don’t want to let him destroy me either. [REDACTED]. The Trump anger spiral is vicious.
Carlson: That’s for sure. Deadly. It almost consumed me in November when Sidney Powell attacked us. It was very difficult to regain emotional control, but I knew I had to. We’ve got two weeks left. We can do this.