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Former top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson is considering a move that would allow him to flex is considerable media muscle in an unprecedented manner that would likely shake up the Republican presidential nominating process.
“Carlson … has aspirations of moving into a larger role that doesn’t limit him to a single medium, according to people familiar with his thinking. And he is willing to walk away from some of the millions that Fox is contractually obligated to pay him, if that would give him the flexibility to have a prominent voice in the 2024 election cycle,” the Washington Post reported Thursday.
Carlson’s ambitious plan is to moderate his own GOP candidate forum, which would be independent of the Republican National Committee debate system, the Post reported and he has reportedly discussed the idea with the current front-runner for the party nomination, Donald Trump.
The Post added that the plan would certainly be a test of his influence over conservative politics as well as a challenge to his former employer, as Fox is hosting the first official primary debate, which Trump has threatened to boycott.
Carlson is working hard to avoid the fate of other former Fox News stars who, after leaving the network, have found successful roles but not nearly as much influence as they once had, the Post added.
“If I’m sitting in his seat right now, I’m plotting really my own media company, how I want to build it,” Joel Cheatwood, a former Fox News and CNN executive who helped found theblaze.com with Glenn Beck after he was forced out from Fox News in 2011, told the Post. “Whether you like him or not, there are very few individual brands out there that you can almost guarantee an incredibly significant following from day one.”
Carlson’s current contract with Fox News is said to run until the end of 2024, which may limit his options for now. However, sources close to Carlson suggest that he may be willing to accept a lesser amount than he is owed in order to re-enter the media game sooner than that, noted the Post, adding that his attorney, Bryan Freedman, did not respond to a request for comment.
The former Fox News star has reportedly been approached by multiple smaller cable news networks including One America News, Newsmax, and Valuetainment.
Robert Herring Sr., founder and CEO of OANN, praised Carlson as having “the largest and most passionate audience in cable news,” going on to add that his company has “made our interest clear.”
The Post noted further:
A stronger pitch has come from Newsmax, the conservative media company that has seen a prime-time ratings surge this past week at the same time Fox was losing viewers from Carlson’s old time slot.
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy approached Carlson and his associates with a wide-ranging proposal that, in the words of one person familiar with the pitch, would involve “rebranding Newsmax under Tucker’s name.” Carlson and his advisers are intrigued by the idea of his own media company, and taking over an existing one would be easier than building from the ground up — though any possible deal would boil down to unresolved questions of money and editorial control.
Valuetainment CEO Patrick Bet-David has offered Carlson $100 million over five years and full editorial control of the largely streaming network which has a large presence on platforms like YouTube.
Cheatwood speculated that if Carlson were to sign with a much smaller network, he would actually diminish himself and his own brand. “I just don’t think he needs it,” he told the Post. “He’s just so much bigger than they are.”
“He could do very well and find an audience immediately, and he could earn a good living and never have to leave his home studio,” added Ken LaCorte, a former Fox News Digital executive.
The Post quoted insiders who said that Carlson doesn’t just want to be a podcaster, he also wants to produce documentaries and be the host of live events.
“You see what he’s setting up here? He’s setting up a different kind of show, a show where he takes big issues and he debates them,” Beck said last week on his show. “That’s where he’s headed.”