Maybe Tucker Carlson Meant “Demonic Force” in a Nice Way When He Likened Trump to Satan
Donald Trump has been called a lot of things by a lot of people over the last number of years. “Agent Orange.” “Sentient circus peanut.” “Staph infection on the ass of society.” Something that “came out of a clogged drain at the Wonka factory.” Still, no one expected the ex-president to be described in anything less than glowing terms by the gang over at Fox News, the network that effectively served as state TV while he was in office. And yet, at least one of Fox’s top talking heads likened him to none other than the devil back in 2021, all while slinging the guy’s election lies on live TV.
In a text message to his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, sent the day of the January 6 insurrection, Tucker Carlson—friend to war criminals and serial liars alike—called Trump “a demonic force, a destroyer.” The host added: “But he’s not going to destroy us.” We know this thanks to a Thursday court filing from Dominion Voting Systems, the voting technology company currently suing Fox News for $1.6 billion over the network’s 2020 election coverage. The filing offers an inside glimpse at what the network’s top stars and executives were saying amongst themselves about Trump’s election lies—i.e., that they were bullshit—despite claiming that the election had been stolen with Dominion’s help.
“From the top down, Fox knew ‘the dominion stuff’ was ‘total bs,’” the filing reads, citing “a mountain of direct evidence.” Positing that the reason the network “peddle[d] this false narrative to its viewers,” attorneys for Dominion said that “Fox’s correct call of Arizona for Joe Biden triggered a backlash among its audience and ‘the network [was] being rejected.’” For example, two days after the election, on November 5, 2020, Carlson texted Pfeiffer to claim that the team that had called Arizona for Biden was going to screw up his reputation as a right-wing crackpot (our words). “We worked really hard to build what we have,” Carlson said, according to the filing. “Those fuckers are destroying our credibility. It enrages me.” Pfeiffer then responded that “many on ‘our side’ are being reckless demagogues right now.” (“Our side” presumably refers to hosts like Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham.) “Of course they are,” Carlson wrote back. “We’re not going to follow them.” He added that the then president was good at “destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
The filing notes that, days later, Carlson wrote privately that Trump needed to admit “that there wasn’t enough fraud to change the outcome” of the election. Later, he wrote that Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s lawyers, was “lying” about having evidence of fraud. A few days after that, Carlson expressed similar ideas to Ingraham, saying, “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.” Ingraham responded, “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.” Carlson replied, “It’s unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it.”
And yet, by mid-January, Carlson was apparently all in on publicly pushing Team Trump’s election lies on his viewers. Just weeks after the insurrection and his likening of Trump to the devil, the prime time host had Mike Lindell on his show, where, per the filing, the My Pillow founder “spouted…conspiracies on air after previewing them for Carlson’s staff during a pre-interview.”
In a statement, Fox News said: “There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan.” The network also insisted that Dominion “mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law.”