As Tucker Carlson prepares to take his show to Twitter, Fox News, the network which fired the primetime opinion host last month, has dismantled the studio it built in a barn at his home in Maine.
“Fox came in last week and got all their shit out of there,” DailyMail.com quoted Patrick Feeney, who it said was managing work to rebuild the studio, as saying.
“They took the set and everything, all the equipment, the chairs, the desk, the fake walls, everything.”
On Wednesday, a Fox News source with knowledge of the situation told the Guardian: “We removed the equipment (which we own) after building a custom studio at our expense – we did not tear down the studio.”
Carlson was fired in the aftermath of a $787.5m settlement of a $1.6bn defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by Dominion Voter Systems, over the broadcast of Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Fox News has not disclosed the reason for Carlson’s firing. In its initial statement on the day it happened, 24 April, the network said: “Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”
Amid proliferating speculation about why Carlson was fired, Variety recently reported that a Fox board member told Carlson his firing was a condition of the Dominion settlement.
“The unnamed board member told Carlson that the condition does not appear in any of the settlement’s documents, and instead was a verbal agreement,” Variety said.
“If Fox didn’t comply, the settlement was off, Carlson was told. Dominion had plenty of leverage given that the $787.5m deal to settle Dominion’s defamation suit against the network wouldn’t officially close until late May.”
However, a Dominion spokesperson told the Guardian the full settlement sum was received on 18 April, two days before the case was closed and six days before Carlson was fired.
The spokesperson pointed to comments earlier this month in London in which John Poulos, the Dominion chief executive, told the Sir Harry Evans Global Summit in Investigative Journalism: “By the time we left the courtroom, they had wired the money.”
A Fox News spokesperson previously told Axios it was “categorically false” that Carlson was fired as part of the Dominion settlement.
‘Carlson announced his planned move to Twitter on 9 May, promising “a new version of the show we’ve been doing for the last six and a half years” but offering few specifics.
The status of his contract with Fox News remains in question.
On Wednesday, the Mail said Carlson, 54, was working with a three-man construction crew to rebuild his studio in Woodstock, Maine, after the visit from Fox. The site published pictures of Carlson dressed in a plaid shirt and work vest and carrying a sizable axe.
“There’s no hardware in place at all,” the crew member, Feeney, was quoted as saying. “There’s not even an infrastructure for a TV studio for a long time.”
He added: “We just came to clean it up and get it looking like something again. There’s no imminent venture. We’re just getting ready in case something does happen. There’s nothing we’re doing other than cleaning the place up, shoring up the walls, making it look good again.”
Feeney also told the Mail Carlson had “just got back late last night after meeting with lawyers and all that stuff. As you can imagine, he’s very, very busy right now.”