EXCLUSIVE: Fox News Lawyer’s Phone Call Is At The Center Of Tucker’s Breach Of Contract Case

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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A phone call from Fox News’ own lawyer is at the center of Tucker Carlson’s case against the embattled network, two sources familiar with the call have confirmed to the Daily Caller.

Fox News’ Chief Legal Counsel Viet Dinh allegedly called a close associate of Carlson’s on May 3 asking to have a message relayed to Carlson. Dinh expressed regret at how the previous week had played out in the media, according to two sources, reassuring Carlson’s camp that Fox News had “not authorized” the leaks that led to several negative headlines. Sources say Dinh also relayed that the head of Fox News PR, Irena Briganti, had been warned she would be “fired” if she were caught leaking. Critically, he also confessed, according to the sources, that the network’s leaders suspected a member of the board of directors had been speaking to the press about Tucker without authorization.

Carlson’s camp suspected either former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan or Anne Dias, a wealthy hedge fund manager, according to a source. Both were appointed to Fox’s board in March of 2019. Carlson’s inner circle has since ruled out Ryan, according to sources, and now believes it was Dias who talked to the press.

Fox emailed Daily Caller two days after this story went live to deny Dias discussed Carlson with external media.

“Any claim that Anne Dias has spoken to the media on these matters is absolutely false,” a Fox spokesperson said to the Caller.

The Daily Caller asked if Fox made such a conclusion as a result of an internal investigation, and the spokesman replied.

“Just for clarification and off the record, I’m on the corporate side and since there was an accusation about Anne Dias, that’s our response.”

Carlson’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, told the Daily Caller the leaks amounted to a “smear campaign.”

“It strains credulity that, immediately after agreeing to pay almost $780 million to settle serious allegations of misconduct that a member of Fox’s Board of Directors would be engaging in an attempted smear campaign by illegally leaking information about Tucker Carlson,” Freedman said. “However, we have to trust that it is true when the Chief Legal Officer informs Tucker that he believes it to be the case.”

Carlson accused Fox of breaching his contract, arguing in a letter to Dinh and Briganti that Fox employees, including Rupert Murdoch, promised not to disparage Carlson, according to Axios. Carlson’s lawyers argue Dinh and Murdoch intentionally broke the “material representations,” according to the report.

“These actions not only breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the Agreement, but give rise to claims for breach of contract,” the letter reportedly says, “and intentional and negligent misrepresentation.”

Leaks to the media included private text messages sent by Carlson along with behind-the-scenes footage of Carlson joking with coworkers prior to taping his show.

Daily Caller reached out to Briganti to ask if Fox News was internally investigating leaks from the board of directors. Daily Caller also asked Briganti for comment on her alleged termination threat. Daily Caller phoned Dinh at his office and his personal line and was not able to get hold of him by press time. (Disclosure: Carlson is a co-founder of the Daily Caller.)

Brigante called these claims “categorically false” and sent the Caller two letters from Fox’s legal team. One letter was a cease and desist addressed to Media Matters — a site dedicated to smearing conservatives with deceptive articles and manipulated videos — which published a series of behind-the-scenes videos of Tucker. The other was a letter Fox News sent to Dominion alleging the company leaked information turned over during the discovery process in Dominion’s lawsuit, an allegation the company has denied publicly.

Critics regarded Fox News’s letters, which were publicized weeks ago, as a smokescreen to divert blame for the leaks away from the beleaguered brand. Fox has suffered tremendously in the wake of the cancellation of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

The very first episode of “Fox News Tonight,” which replaced Carlson’s show, dropped in ratings within the key 25-to-54-year-old age demographic. Things went from bad to worse, with the time slot pulling in just 1.3 million viewers with host Brian Kilmeade, getting beat out by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who had 1.38 million viewers the same night. Carlson was averaging 3.25 million viewers and his show was the second highest-rated show on cable news, behind Fox’s “The Five.”

Other viewers took a harder approach, canceling their Fox Nation subscriptions in protest.

Meanwhile, others have spoken out in support of Carlson, with NFL legend Brett Favre calling for a boycott of Fox News.

“Time to boycott Fox until they come to their sense and let the man speak,” Favre posted to Twitter.

Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly also came to Carlson’s defense, saying Fox wanted to silence Carlson and even encouraging Carlson to breach his contract so that he can reach his audience again.

Fox News is reportedly now considering “multiple scenarios” for its primetime lineup amid declining ratings since Carlson’s departure.

A recent report suggested Sean Hannity might move into the 8 p.m. hour while Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld could also be tossed into the mixup, according to Variety.

“No decision has been made on a new primetime line-up and there are multiple scenarios under consideration,” Fox said in a statement Wednesday, according to Variety.

But even a primetime shakeup might not be enough to pull Fox News from the slump. A recent poll conducted between April 28 – May 2 amongst 404 likely 2024 Republican primary voters found Carlson had a net favorability of 59% while Fox News had one of -4%.

UPDATE: (8pm May 21): This story has been updated to include additional comment from Fox News’s “Corporate side” spokesman.