San Diego-based One America News wants to hire a 53-year-old Maine resident with connections to La Jolla and conservative commentary — Tucker Carlson.
Hours after Fox News announced that it had parted ways with its top-rated primetime host, Carlson was receiving job pitches from OAN CEO and founder Robert Herring Sr. and even Russia Today.
“@RobHerring would like to extend an invitation to Carlson to meet for negotiation,” said an OAN tweet and news story on its website.
Herring told Times of San Diego via email: “It would be great if we could get Tucker! I might give him around $25 million. And he would be well worth that!”
Carlson’s net worth has been estimated at $30 million, with an annual salary of $8 million (or more) — as host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Carlson’s exit is being reported as fallout from a former Fox producer — who worked for Carlson — suing the right-wing network. Several media outlets are reporting that Fox Corp. chair Rupert Murdoch personally fired him or ordered the dismissal.
But CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported Rupert’s son Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott made the decision to sever ties with Tucker Carlson on Friday evening.
“Carlson was informed of the decision on Monday morning,” Darcy tweeted.
In a tweet,* Russia Today said: “Hey @TuckerCarlson, you can always question more with @RT_com”
Russia Today, now known as RT, is a TV network funded and controlled by the Russian government. Few observers expect Carlson to have an interest in what many call an overt propaganda outlet.
The New York Times reported: “Howard Polskin, who compiles a daily newsletter, TheRighting, that tracks conservative news outlets, said that Mr. Carlson could join niche networks like NewsNation or Newsmax. He could start his own media brand, like Dan Bongino, the conservative pundit who also parted ways with Fox last week, Mr. Polskin said.”
Local broadcast veteran Eddie McCoven, who worked at OAN for nearly three years ending in March 2020, says he doubts Carlson would end up at OAN “because with such a small reach now, what budget do they have for such a big name?”
“It remains to be seen if OANN will survive the lawsuit it is facing from Dominion,” he added. “Many colleagues tell me they can’t even keep basic newsroom positions staffed. OANN lacks the programming direction needed to support top-tier talk show talent.”
The Bay Ho media outlet, which lost its DirecTV platform, had something to boast about when it had Graham Ledger and Liz Wheeler, McCoven told Times of San Diego, “but those days are long gone.”
“If anything, I’d expect to see Carlson end up working for Newsmax or even NewsNation in some capacity, but I can’t see him being anything more than a contributor. I’m sure we’ll see him end up like other far-right personalities with his own self-produced podcast or online video show. He’ll maintain a following so long as the bills get paid, then fade into obscurity.”
Writing in Vanity Fair, former CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter said revelations from Dominion Voting System’s lawsuit against Fox were embarrassing for many individuals, including Carlson, “whose private emotions about Donald Trump (a “destroyer,” a “demonic force”) and Fox’s own journalists were published for all the world to read.”
“Hundreds of pages of emails and text messages from within Fox were published in Dominion’s pretrial legal filings,” he added. “But there is a huge number of other pages that remain out of public view. The redactions were voluminous.”
Stelter noted the Abby Grossberg suit and concluded:
“Truth be told, Carlson’s exit may always be shrouded in some amount of mystery. Both Fox and Carlson may be incentivized, for financial reasons, to stay semi-peaceful in public. But at the time I’m filing this, six hours have passed since Fox made the announcement for him. Carlson still hasn’t released a statement or replied to my texts. One of the biggest, baddest loudmouths in television history is suddenly silent.”
Stelter, who has written a book on Fox News and is finishing a second, was doubtful Carlson would move to OAN, saying in a tweet: “Carlson is so much bigger than OAN, and he wouldn’t sink this low, but still notable.”
In April 2017, Herring told The Hill that his Trump-friendly far-right network had contacted former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly with an offer that “could have paid him more than he made at Fox.”
O’Reilly’s agent told Herring they were undecided.
“They were to take a meeting in late May,” Herring said that June. “We sent them a solid proposal first week in June they have not responded so we pulled our offer so that we can pursue other talent.”
Leaders of the San Diego County Republican and Democratic Parties — Paula Whitsell and Becca Taylor, respectively — didn’t respond to requests for comment on the Carlson departure.
But Cynthia Kaui, president and chair of San Diego Young Republicans, said in a statement: “With Tucker Carlson hailing from San Diego, we are grateful for his attention to issues that challenged conventional narratives and his dedication to bringing the highest level of journalism to his viewership.
“Tucker has been on cable TV for a long time, so the trending pivots of media consumption will force different pundits to make a shift in their professional careers to adapt. I suspect Tucker will be launching an independent project soon. Our members get their news from various outlets, and Tucker will continue to be an important voice that conservatives seek out regardless of what he does next.”
Through its president, College Republicans of SDSU issued this statement:
“We weren’t super surprised with him leaving Fox News. Over the past few years, he has gained a large following and we believe he will move to another platform or create his own. He has been a huge influence on the Republican Party and has helped get conservative views in the media and talked about. We are excited to see what he does in the future.”
Veteran fact-checker Brooke Binkowski, also responding to questions, said she had never met Carlson though they both worked for CNN at the same time two decades ago.
“From my perspective as a counterdisinformation journalist and researcher, this couldn’t have happened to a better guy,” she said. “He’s been legitimizing and laundering white supremacist ideology for years. He’s a Viktor Orbán fan-boy, too. About time that toxic wretch got his platform removed. Hope it stings for him like a million nettles.”
Updated at 2:15 p.m. April 28, 2023
*Correction: An earlier version of this report said Russia Today deleted its tweet. It remains online.