"Like negotiating with terrorists”: Ex-Fox producer worried accurate reporting may “insult” audience

Former Tucker Carlson producer railed against "dumb" Fox viewers, calling them "cousin f—–ing types"

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published March 13, 2023 10:35AM (EDT)

Fox host Tucker Carlson (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)
Fox host Tucker Carlson (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

New text messages revealed in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News showed a former Tucker Carlson producer trash the network's audience.

Newly revealed text messages show that Alex Pfeiffer, a former producer for "Tucker Carlson Tonight," was uneasy about covering false election conspiracy theories purported by disgraced pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell. Powell claimed to have an affidavit showing that a large number of votes had been covertly flipped by Dominion "at the direction" of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died years earlier. Powell also said the voting software company had ties to the Clinton Foundation and Soros, claims which are also unfounded and untrue. 

The Washington Post reported that Fox executive and former Trump aide Raj Shah tried to play both sides when it came to covering Powell's lies. When former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, along with Powell, endorsed false election claims during a press conference on Nov 19, 2020, Carlson expressed doubts. "She never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of polite requests. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her," Carlson said on his show. A Nov. 17 text showed that Carlson wrote, "Sidney Powell is lying."

Shah responded to Powell's "outlandish" claims by rallying Trump's administration to reject her allegations, writing in an email to his bosses, "After criticism from social media for Tucker's segment questioning Attorney Sidney Powell's outlandish voter fraud claims, our consultants and I coordinated an effort to generate Trump administration pushback against her claims." 

"We encouraged several sources within the administration to tell reporters that Powell offered no evidence for her claims and didn't speak for the president," he added. Shortly thereafter on Nov. 22, Trump's campaign, released a statement via Giuliani and campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, saying that Powell was "practicing law on her own" and was "not a member" of Trump's legal team. 

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Shah, however, advised Tucker Carlson's team to approach Powell with sensitivity on air.

"Might wanna address this, but this stuff is so f------ insane. Vote rigging to the tune of millions? C'mon," he wrote to Pfeiffer.

"It is so insane but our viewers believe it so addressing again how her stupid Venezuela affidavit isn't proof might insult them," Pfeiffer replied. 

Shah suggested that Carlson describe the affidavit as "not new info, not proof" but then quickly "pivot to being deferential."

Pfeiffer, who has since left the network, responded by trashing Fox viewers.

"Like negotiating with terrorists," Pfeiffer wrote. "But especially dumb ones. Cousin f—– types not saudi royalty." 

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Alex Pfeiffer Donald Trump Fox News Politics Raj Shah Rudy Giuliani Sidney Powell Tucker Carlson