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On Eve of Trial, Discovery of Carlson Texts Set Off Crisis Atop Fox

  • April 27, 2023

It is notable that even when compared with the extreme rhetoric Mr. Carlson was allowed to use on air, the messages released publicly had the ability to shock. In one, he referred to the lawyer Sidney Powell, a major proponent of the debunked theory that the Dominion machines switched votes, with a crude and misogynistic slur. Amid the cache of redacted messages was one in which he used a similar vulgarity to describe a senior Fox News executive, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

One person briefed on the contents of the redacted material said one of the messages was particularly offensive, adding to the concern at the top of the company. The Times has not seen the contents of the message.

Dominion lawyers planned to press the judge about using the contents of the redacted messages in their questioning of Mr. Carlson. The lawyers prepped dozens of potential questions for the host, along with hypothetical rejoinders they thought Mr. Carlson might use to deflect the toughest of them. And they planned to pin him down on the ones that were most demeaning toward women. The two sides had different views of whether much or any of Mr. Carlson’s unredacted messages would be seen in court — a difference that, at trial, would have been sorted by the presiding judge, Eric M. Davis of Delaware Superior Court.

The settlement of the Dominion case, however, has not ended the threat posed by the messages. The New York Times, The Associated Press and National Public Radio have challenged the redactions, meaning they could still become public.

And Mr. Carlson’s indiscretion has exposed him further. Given how polarizing he has been, both inside and outside Fox News, more evidence of embarrassing and inappropriate conduct could emerge. In video obtained by The Times, for instance, Mr. Carlson is shown off camera discussing his “postmenopausal fans” and whether they will approve of how he looks on the air. In another video, he is overheard describing a woman he finds “yummy.”

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