Fox News host Tucker Carlson called Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and other Republican senators who criticized his coverage of tapes from Jan. 6, 2021, “weak” and “vicious” on his Wednesday night show. 

But what Carlson didn’t talk about on his Wednesday show were the text messages released in court filings earlier that day in which Carlson said he “hated” former President Donald Trump.

“I hate him passionately,” Carlson wrote in a text to a co-worker about Trump in January 2021, also saying that he couldn’t wait to “ignore Trump most nights.”

“What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong,” he wrote in November 2020. 

In another message sent just before Jan. 6, 2021, Carlson wrote: “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.” 

The messages were written in late 2020 and early 2021, and were released in court filings related to a $1.6 billion case in Delaware state court between Dominion Voting Systems Corp. and Fox Corp., over Fox News’ reporting on Dominion’s voting machines in the 2020 presidential election. 

Previous document releases show Fox News anchors saying they knew claims of election fraud were false, but they reported on those claims anyway in an effort to keep viewers from migrating to other conservative news networks like One America News Network and Newsmax. Dominion also has defamation cases pending against those networks. 

This week, in response to reporters’ questions about Carlson’s coverage of the Jan. 6 unrest at the Capitol, several Republican senators — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Romney — criticized Carlson for trying to present what they said was a false narrative, and downplaying the violence that happened that day.

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What happened at the U.S. Capitol? How the riot in Washington unfolded

“It’s really sad to see Tucker Carlson go off the rails that bad,” Romney said to a group of reporters in a Senate hallway. “The American people saw what happened on Jan. 6. They’ve seen the people that got injured. They saw the damage to the building. You can’t hide the truth by selectively picking a few minutes out of tapes and saying this is what went on. It’s so absurd. It’s nonsense.” 

Romney also called Carlson’s depiction of the events on Jan. 6 “dangerous and disgusting,” and said that the videos from that day should have been released broadly rather than just to Carlson. 

Carlson received the footage from Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said he wanted “transparency,” according to The New York Times

Other Republicans, like New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, were happy with Carlson’s coverage, saying it presented a different narrative than what was presented by the House Committee investigating Jan. 6.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called for the footage to be released to the general public. 

In a Tweet on Wednesday night, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, joined the debate, saying, “I don’t understand why any senator — Republican or Democrat — would be ‘outraged’ by your reporting on public surveillance-camera footage from January 6th, especially given that the footage in question raises legitimate questions that need to be answered.” 

He retweeted a tweet by Carlson that said “Chuck Schumer wasn’t the only politician outraged by our January 6 reporting. He was joined by a cascade of Republicans, including Mitch McConnell.” 

When asked about Carlson’s coverage, McConnell said he agreed with J. Thomas Manger, the Capitol Police chief, who said the program “cherry-picked” from 41,000 hours of footage.

“Clearly the chief of the Capitol Police, in my view, correctly describes what most of us witnessed firsthand on Jan. 6,” McConnell said. “It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”

McConnell was in the hospital Thursday recovering from a concussion after a fall.

Carlson reacted strongly to criticism from Romney and other Republican senators, saying, “They’re not loyal to their voters, they’re loyal to each other.” 

“Mitch McConnell, Thomas Tillis and … Mitt Romney — all weak men, and like all weak men, vicious men — were especially angry,” he said.  

Carlson accused congressional leaders of hiding the tapes from the public, and of showing only selective portions of the video.

He said he was angry on behalf of Jacob Chansley, who is serving a 41-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding. “Sending someone to prison for four years on the basis of fabricated evidence is the most serious threat to civil liberties we could face,” Carlson said.

Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, appeared on Carlson’s show Wednesday and said he had not seen the footage released by Carlson that appeared to show Capitol police officers walking with Chansley through the Capitol building the day of the riots. 

Watkins said his client was not violent, and said he asked to be able to review the video but that it wasn’t shared with him. 

In defending himself Wednesday, Carlson said he “hates(s) vandalism” and “assault.” But also claimed the Jan. 6 riots were not “a violent insurrection.” 

While Carlson did not address his messages about hating Trump on his show, he did have a positive segment on Trump’s “interesting” policy proposals for 2024. 

On Thursday, the White House issued a statement criticizing Carlson by name, saying he was not credible.

“We agree with the chief of the Capitol Police and the wide range of bipartisan lawmakers who have condemned this false depiction of the unprecedented, violent attack on our Constitution and the rule of law — which cost police officers their lives,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said, according to Politico.