Tucker’s choice: Three basic options for his future platform

It appears that Tucker Carlson may be hamstrung for the moment, unable to negotiate a move to a new home because Fox News reportedly still has him under contract, paying him $10 to $20 million a year while blocking him from creating and broadcasting new content on their platforms or anywhere else. While courts tend to look unfavorably on contracts with noncompete clauses and other provisions that gag people, in effect keeping them in  involuntary servitude, the company has the resources to drag out a fight in court that could keep Carlson silenced as the wheels of justice slowly grind for years.

Such a move to gag Tucker would risk  a blowback from its core audience that would dwarf in scale and intensity the current calls for boycott, and could permanently damage the prospects of what had been the golden cash cow of the restructured Murdoch empire.

Gagging important voices at the cost of tens of millions of dollars a year, purely out of ideology or spite, is not a good look for a company seeking the loyalty and affection of conservatives. 

As Wolf Howling points out on these pages today, the Murdochs’ timing was atrocious:

Could there be a more fundamental act of disloyalty to Fox’s viewers? Could it have come at a worse time, when conservatives rightly feel that they face an existential threat from progressives set upon a coup?

All of this spells enormous opportunity for Tucker Carlson. As I see it, he has 3 different directions to choose from, in finding his new home, though he could mix elements from each into a blended approach.

  1. Stay with a cable/satellite platform, just not on Fox News.
  2. Move to an existing social media platform, such as Twitter, which, under Elon Musk’s ownership, could innovate a tweet-based platform that generates substantial revenue for Carlson.
  3. Create a new streaming service accessed via Roku boxes and similar streaming interface devices.

Here are some preliminary thoughts on each.

A cable/satellite platform

Zero Hedge reported:

 San Diego-based One America News CEO and founder Robert Herring Sr. has an offer for Tucker Carlson: $25 million to join the network.

"Maybe Fox News' loss could be @OANN's gain,  Founder and CEO @RobHerring would like to extend an invitation to Carlson to meet for negotiation," the network tweeted on Monday, hours after we learned that Lachlan Murcoch had fired the #1 cable news host from Fox News.



I can’t imagine Tucker Carlson accepting this offer. OAN doesn’t have nearly enough clearance on cable and satellite systems to ring him a large audience, and I wonder about its ability to come up with the necessary cash on a continuing basis. And the sum mentioned is not enough more than he receives from Fox currently.

Newsmax, which has considerably greater availability on cable and satellite systems is a more realistic possibility, and according to TMZ, is offering to let Carlson control more than just his program if he joins them.

Newsmax, wants him to be more than just the face of the network, and it's putting on a full-court press to land him.

Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... the news channel is doing everything it can to sweeten the deal for Tucker to come on board -- including floating the idea of letting him program the whole channel, not just his own show.

That would be a pretty enticing deal point ... in addition to having his own primetime show, Tucker would have a say over what shows lead into and out of his show, which can be key in achieving bigger TV ratings.

While our sources stress Newsmax hasn't formally offered Tucker a job -- he can't have formal discussions due to his current Fox News contract -- we're told the network execs have made it clear to people around him, they would basically give him a big say in rebranding their channel.

Newsmax has some competition for Tucker ... as we first reported, NewsNation is showing early interest as well.

RT, the Russian government-owned outlet also issued a mocking tweet that has to be regarded as trolling American media more than a serious option. Carlson would be out of his mind to accept affiliation with an outlet controlled by Russia.



A social media platform

It’s been widely noted that Tucker’s 8:01 PM 2-minute Twitter video on April 26 quickly exceeded the audience of the replacement Bran Kilmeade program on Fox News at the same hour and went on to dwarf the audience Fox News receives, currently closing in on 80 million views versus the fewer than 4 million viewers Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged.



In the hands of Elon Musk, a free speech advocate and technical innovator, it is certainly quite possible that a channel on Twitter that offered monetization opportunities to both Carlson and Musk is a possibility. Facebook, controlled by Mark Zuckerberg, does not seem a realistic home.

A streaming platform

It is widely believed in the broadcasting industry that streaming platforms, not cable or satellite distribution, is the future of content distribution. They put the viewer in control of when to view, and offer the option of picking and choosing to pay for only the channels specifically desired, unlike the “packages” retailed by cable and satellite systems.

Fox News has been investing a lot of money and promotion on Fox News for its Fox Nation streaming service for this reason. Awkwardly, much of the promotion was directed to the special content produced by Tucker Carlson, his long form interviews and various specials he and his staff created.

If Carlson were to create his own subscription-based or even advertiser-based streaming service, he would be making the trend his friend, instead of harnessing his fortunes to the declining cable/satellite platform. He could also have a substantial equity position in the service, not just be reliant on salary. Capital gains are taxed at considerably lower rates than ordinary salary income, for one thing.

He also has the possibility of inviting some of his frequent guests (and apparent friends) like Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald, and Jason Whitlock, to join the platform when contractually able to do so. This could make him a peer of the Murdochs and able to profit from the decline in their fortunes.

I have no exclusive insight into Tucker’s thinking, and clearly the decision is entirely up to him. But my best guess is that the man who already founded (and sold) a significant publishing enterprise, the Daily Caller, might want to go with option 3, though there is no need to exclusively do so.

Photo credit: Twitter video screengrab

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