Lawyers: Tucker Carlson's Free Speech Trumps Fox News Cease-And-Desist - Exclusive

Legal experts are on the case when it comes to Tucker Carlson's potential fight with Fox News. Back in April, the conservative-leaning network announced it parted ways with the controversial personality. "We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor," Fox News said in a statement. While the news outlet has remained quiet regarding details of Carlson's firing, several reports have hinted it was due to his problematic behavior, which included an alarming text exchange he had with a producer regarding the January 6 Capitol riots, per The New York Times. Weeks after his dramatic departure, the former "Tucker Carlson Today" host announced he would take his controversial opinions to Twitter with his new show, "Tucker on Twitter."

"Speech is the fundamental pre-requisite for democracy," he said in an introductory video. "Amazingly, as of tonight, there are not that many platforms left that allow free speech. The last big one remaining... is Twitter, where we are now." A month after his announcement, Carlson's show debuted on the social media site on June 6. However, shortly after its release, Fox News sent him a cease-and-desist letter. According to CBS News, the network claimed Carlson had breached his non-compete contract, which reportedly doesn't expire until December 31, 2024. With tempers flaring between Carlson and Fox News, Nicki Swift asked two legal experts their opinion on what a potential legal battle would entail.

Tucker Carlson has some powerful arguments against his non-compete contract with Fox News

In the wake of Fox News' cease-and-desist letter to Tucker Carlson, we spoke with Los Angeles entertainment attorney Tre Lovell to better understand the potential legal situation. When asked about the controversial journalist's best path, Lovell revealed that "non-compete agreements are not automatically enforceable." "Carlson can challenge the non-compete by arguing that it infringes upon his freedom of speech and thus violates public policy," he explained. "Moreover he can say that it is overly broad when Fox News tries to apply it to any media platform, essentially taking away Carlson's ability to pursue his livelihood."

He also told Nicki Swift that Carlson could claim Fox News took the first step in breaching his contract. "Tucker can argue that Fox breached the agreement first by terminating him and/or not fulfilling additional promises made during his employment, which may very well release him from other provisions of the agreement, including the non-compete," he added. Lastly, Lovell revealed that Carlson may be able to argue that Twitter is not a direct competitor for Fox News, despite the contentious journalist racking up huge numbers. "Just because he is successful on Twitter does not automatically mean that Twitter is a direct competitor to Fox," he explained. "Social media and cable news are arguably not competitors and have different audiences."

Tucker Carlson might face pushback if his Twitter following outnumbers Fox News viewership

When speaking with Camron Dowlatshahi, a Los Angeles entertainment and employment attorney and a founding partner at Mills Sadat Dowlat LLP, the legal expert echoed similar sentiments regarding Tucker Carlson's potential battle with Fox News. "Carlson can argue that Fox is unfairly restraining his right to free speech and to produce non-commercial content, by restricting social media posts on the platform of a non-competitor," Dowlatshahi explained. When asked if Carlson could push the argument of his Fox News firing damaging his career (despite his recent success on Twitter), Dowlatshahi said, "He can still argue the obvious point that he was booted from one of the biggest news organizations in the world." He added that Carlson could even argue he'll "never have the same platform and growth potential" he had while working with the conservative-leaning network.

Even though Carlson may have various ways to argue his way around Fox News' cease-and-desist, Dowlatshahi told Nicki Swift he could run into a tough argument regarding his evolving Twitter following. "If he grows his following to the extent that it would rival Fox's viewership, then he certainly has a tough argument," he said. "Notably, Twitter follower count is not the same as actual people watching Fox, so it may be difficult to determine Carlson's potential growth, in any event."