Gov. Ron DeSantis may have kicked Tucker Carlson’s dog, Rupert Murdoch may have called his longest-running primetime star an ableist slur, and Lachlan Murdoch has a fondness for anti-Trump toiletries—these are some of the many outrageous pieces of gossip revealed in provocative author Michael Wolff’s upcoming new book about the Fox News universe.
The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty, due out Sept. 26 via Henry Holt & Co., purports to give readers a behind-the-curtains look into Fox’s handling of the Dominion defamation lawsuit over its 2020 election lies, its post-election clashes with former President Donald Trump, its shocking firing of Carlson, and the Murdoch family’s Succession-like turmoil.
In Wolff’s telling, both Fox News and the Murdoch empire are in a slow-motion decline.
“The fact that the last book by this author was spoofed in a Saturday Night Live skit is really all we need to know,” a Fox News spokesperson wrote The Daily Beast in a statement. Reps for the Murdoch family declined to comment, but a person familiar with the matter claimed to The Daily Beast that Wolff did not approach Fox News or Fox Corp for fact-checking. “Every principal character in the book including [Murdoch] was contacted for comment,” Wolff responded in a statement.
The book, which The Daily Beast has obtained and reviewed, is billed as a juicy tell-all and is chock full of eye-opening and at-times absurd anecdotes that occasionally strain credulity. During one chapter, Wolff writes that prior to being fired from his top-rated primetime perch, Carlson considered a run for president in order to escape his Fox News contract. The author also details a bizarre incident that allegedly occurred when Carlson shared a meal with DeSantis.
With Fox urging its stars to be “open-minded” about the Florida governor, then Murdoch’s “favored candidate” for 2024, Wolff writes, Carlson and his wife Susie welcomed DeSantis and his wife Casey to their Florida home for lunch. Despite hoping to impress Carlson—arguably a top GOP kingmaker—the presidential hopeful and Trump rival failed the “Susie Carlson test” during the visit, Wolff claims.
The DeSantis couple allegedly failed “to read the room,” especially with Carlson’s wife, “a genteel, stay-at-home woman, here in her own house,” Wolff notes. “For two hours Ron DeSantis sat at her table talking in an outdoor voice indoors, failing to observe any basics of conversation ritual or propriety, reeling off an unselfconscious list of his programs and initiatives and political accomplishments.”
Making matters worse, Wolff claims, an “impersonal” DeSantis seemed dismissive and may have used physical force against one of the Carlson family’s four beloved spaniel pups.
During the dinner, Wolff writes, “DeSantis pushed the dog under the table. Had he kicked the dog? Susie Carlson’s judgment was clear: she did not ever want to be anywhere near anybody like that ever again. Her husband agreed. DeSantis, in Carlson’s view, was a ‘fascist.’ The pot calling the kettle even blacker. Forget Ron DeSantis.”
On Wednesday morning, following publication of this article, DeSantis comms director Andrew Romeo wrote in a statement: “The totality of that story is absurd and false. Some will say or write anything to attack Ron DeSantis because they know he presents a threat to their worldview. But rest assured that as president the one thing he will squarely kick is the DC elitists in both parties either under or over the table, and that’s why they are so desperately fighting back.”
Wolff, who peppered his recent Trump-centric bestsellers with juicy (and sometimes refuted) gossip that caused shockwaves in the political media world, continues that trend in The Fall. For example, throughout the book a recurring motif is that Fox News star and Trump confidant Sean Hannity is viewed within Murdoch circles as a “moron.”
At one point, Wolff alleges, Rupert Murdoch took to calling his star primetime host the dreaded r-word slur.
“When Murdoch was brought reports of Hannity’s on- and off-air defense of Fox’s postelection coverage, he perhaps seemed to justify his anchor: ‘He’s retarded, like most Americans,’” Wolff writes in one chapter that notes how Hannity had pushed Fox to stick by Trump.
Wolff further writes that before Murdoch fired Carlson, as Fox faced down Dominion’s defamation lawsuit, the mogul considered axing Hannity as a way of giving the voting-systems firm “a head” in exchange for a settlement. As a way to justify the hypothetical firing, Wolff adds, Lachlan Murdoch proposed citing the host’s previously secret romantic relationship with Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt, using ex-CNN CEO Jeff Zucker’s firing as precedent.
Another recurring subject of salacious gossip in the book is Murdoch’s attitude towards homosexuality. In one of the book’s many anecdotes, the billionaire mogul’s now-ex-wife Jerry Hall berated him over the way he discussed someone’s sexuality. “Rupert, why are you such a homophobe?” Hall allegedly shouted at Murdoch during a meal with her friends on a patio in St. Barts, according to the book. “You’re such a homophobe,” she reportedly added, before telling her pals: “He’s such an old man.” (Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Elsewhere in the book, Wolff paints Rupert’s son Lachlan, Fox Corp’s current chief executive, as a virtue-signaling elitist who didn’t want his celebrity friends to think of him as a Trump supporter or a right-winger. At one point, Wolff alleges, this included showing off his Resistance-style anti-Trump toiletries.
“In the run-up to the 2016 election, the bathrooms at the Mandeville house featured toilet paper with Trump’s face, reported visitors with relief and satisfaction,” Wolff writes. “He told people that his wife and children cried when Trump was elected.”