“This is horse shit,” a Fox News source told me this week. This person was referring to Tucker Carlson’s new, two-part special on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, which falsely portrayed the violent attack on the Capitol as a largely peaceful gathering of “sightseers.” By this point, of course, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a number of his Republican colleagues had already gone on the record to condemn Carlson’s broadcast and endorse the findings of the Capitol Police Chief, who called the report “offensive and misleading.” Many staffers inside Fox News were similarly critical of the special, which had created what this source described as “an internal battle” at the network. Sure, many staffers had grown inured to Carlson’s baseless pot-stirring performance art, but whitewashing an attack on the Capitol—and pissing off prominent Republican leaders in the process—felt beyond the pale.
There was almost no evidence of this internal fissure on Fox News’s airwaves. The network’s daytime programming didn’t touch Carlson’s report or the Republican response. Finally, at 6 p.m., Bret Baier ran a report on the Senate backlash and stated at the end that “no one here at Fox News condones any of the violence that happened on January 6”—the closest anyone at the network has come to publicly challenging Carlson.
But inside Fox, the angst over Carlson’s report ran all the way to the top, sources there said. And the angst was heightened because all this was playing out amid the ongoing Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit, which has revealed that Fox News hosts, producers, and executives were willing to platform baseless claims about the 2020 election in the interest of ratings and revenue. Indeed, in the hours between parts one and two of Carlson’s special, Dominion released a new batch of filings further illuminating the network’s cynical motives.