Rupert Murdoch Held 'Unreported Call' With Zelensky Weeks Before Firing Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson said top person he worked for at Fox News texted him, "For the record, I really disagree with you on Ukraine!"
Chris Menahan

May. 01, 2023

It's looking increasingly like Tucker Carlson was fired by Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch due to his opposition to the US-backed proxy war in Ukraine.

From Semafor, "The Murdochs' Ukraine connection":
The Scoop

Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch held a previously unreported call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this spring in which the two discussed the war and the anniversary of the deaths of Fox News journalists last March. The Ukrainian president had a similar conversation with Lachlan Murdoch on March 15, which Zelenskyy noted in a little-noticed aside during a national broadcast last month.

The conversations came weeks before the Murdochs fired their biggest star and most outspoken critic of American support for Ukraine, Tucker Carlson. Senior Ukrainian officials had made their objections to Carlson’s coverage known to Fox executives, but Zelenskyy did not raise it on the calls with the Murdochs, according to one person familiar with the details of the calls.

Max's View

The Murdoch's have not revealed which of Carlson's many provocations triggered his firing, and there's no particular suggestion that Zelenskyy -- whom Carlson had called a “dictator” -- delivered the final blow.

But Carlson's firing will immediately relieve pressure on key Capitol Hill Ukraine supporters whom Carlson had criticized on air -- and sometimes pressed behind the scenes to change their positions on the war.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul has been one of the most outspoken Republican supporters of the US support for Ukraine, stepping out of line to occasionally reprimand figures in his own party who do not share his views on the subject.

In a segment last year, the Fox News host told viewers that the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee had privately called his show “Russian disinformation.”

"In other words, not only are we wrong -- which is fine -- we are disloyal Americans. We're doing the bidding of a foreign power," Carlson said. "That is not fine, that is slander."

According to two people familiar with the conversation, the then-Fox News host also made his displeasure to McCaul known in a tense private conversation in which Carlson criticized the congressman's comments, describing the congressman as having a low IQ. (Both Carlson and McCaul's office declined to discuss the conversation).

The populist Republican right remains hostile to the war effort and at times openly sympathetic to Russia. But none of Fox's other top figures seem to share Carlson's zeal.

"Clearly, he spooked a lot of members into not being fully supportive of Ukraine," a senior Republican congressional aide told Semafor. Carlson's ouster, the aide added, "probably reduces the loudest voice out there against U.S. support."
Tucker Carlson floated the prospect that he could be fired by Fox over his anti-war stance on Ukraine during an interview with Redacted host Clayton Morris on March 11 -- seemingly just around the same time as Rupert Murdoch's call.

"I'm saying what I really think and I think it really really matters and if I get fired for it, I don't know what to say, I'm not going to change," Carlson said.

Carlson told Morris that one of the top people he works for at Fox News had texted him the other day to say, "For the record, I really disagree with you on Ukraine!"

"And I wrote back and said, 'I know you do and I'm so grateful that you let me disagree with you in public,'" Carlson said. "This is someone I work for -- a well known person."

"Whatever you think of Fox ... they are allowing me to say things that they disagree with and I think that's wonderful," Carlson said.

[Exchange starts at 26:40]

[Left side header image of Rupert Murdoch by the World Economic Forum, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, mid thumbnail of Tucker Carlson by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0]

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