In a statement released by attorney Michael Avenatti, a country club patron said he may pursue criminal charges against Tucker Carlson after cellphone video showed the Fox News host appearing to threaten him during a scuffle at the bar.
“You better get the f--- out of here!” Carlson yells repeatedly in the Oct. 13 video as Juan Manuel Granados sits at the Farmington Country Club bar in Charlottesville. A moment later, an unidentified man standing with Carlson grabs Granados by his collar and appears to yank him up from his seat, at which point bystanders break up the confrontation.
Carlson has not disputed that the incident took place — and even volunteered that his son threw a glass of wine in Granados’s face just before the video began. But the conservative news host denied assaulting Granados and accused him of provoking the scuffle by insulting Carlson’s daughter.
“It took enormous self-control not to beat the man with a chair, which is what I wanted to do,” Carlson wrote in a statement to reporters this weekend, after Avenatti published the video on Twitter.
In Carlson’s version of events, he was having dinner at the club with two of his adult children and some friends on Oct 13.
“Toward the end of the meal, my 19-year-old daughter went to the bathroom with a friend,” he said in his statement. “On their way back through the bar, a middle-aged man stopped my daughter and asked if she was sitting with Tucker Carlson.”
Upon learning she was the right-wing commentator’s daughter, Carlson said, “The man responded, ‘Are you Tucker’s whore?’ ” and called her a misogynistic slur.
The woman returned to the table crying, according to Carlson. He and his son got up to confront Granados at the bar. “My son threw a glass of red wine in the man’s face and told him to leave the bar, which he soon did,” reads his statement, which did not directly address the scene in the cellphone video.
Avenatti, who is known for representing accusers of President Trump and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, called Carlson’s statement “an absolute lie.”
He subsequently released statements from Granados and two unnamed people he said witnessed the altercation — all of them contradicting Carlson’s claims that his daughter was insulted.
In his version, Granados was sitting with a group of friends at the bar and noticed that a woman from Carlson’s table kept walking back and forth to order drinks.
“She was intoxicated,” Avenatti said. He said Granados had been drinking, too, and finally told the woman, without realizing she was Carlson’s daughter: “I can’t believe you’re having dinner with him.”
A little political context: Granados immigrated to the United States from Buenos Aires, according to his biography at the Women’s Initiative — a mental-health provider where he sits on the board of directors. He’s also an LGBTQ rights volunteer in Charlottesville — where a protester was killed at a white nationalist rally last year. Granados sued a sports club several years ago when it refused to give him, his partner and their son a family membership, resulting in a policy change after more than 200,000 people signed a petition to support the gay dads.
Carlson is, if not the polar opposite of Granados, at least a few time zones away across the ideological landscape. Gay rights group have repeatedly accused him of mocking their causes on his highly rated Fox News show. He has warned against the supposed danger of “diversity” and demographic changes, as Politico noted. Earlier this month, a group of antifascists allegedly surrounded his house, beat on his door and terrorized his wife.
Granados would hardly be the first person this year to mix politics and public dining. See: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’s aborted meal at the Red Hen; Sen. Ted Cruz shouted out of a restaurant in the District; and the Los Angeles bar that hosted a confrontation this summer between antifascists and the far-right Proud Boys.
But in a statement released Sunday through his attorney, Granados denied provoking anything — let alone insulting Carlson’s daughter or making her cry.
“I NEVER called any member of his family any names,” Granados said. “I never attacked his daughter as Tucker claims. … Tucker has created this story out of thin air — it never happened."
Rather, Granados said Carlson, Carlson’s son and a third man walked over to the bar after Carlson’s daughter complained to them. Everyone seems to agree that Carlson’s son doused Granados with wine. Avenatti said Granados threw his drink at the son in retaliation.
“Tucker threatened me with physical violence and told me to ‘Go back to where you came from,’ before another patron started filming,” Granados said in his statement.
The 43-second video, whose author has not been publicly identified, is largely a cacophony of overlapping voices and jangling cutlery punctuated by Carlson’s f-bombs.
“Why should I get out of here? I live here.” Granados says a few seconds before a man wheels toward him from Carlson’s side, appears to grab his collar and lifts him into the camera frame.
“Hey! Hey!” an onlooker yells. “Please! There’s no excuse for violence.”
The collar-grabber turns toward the camera: “You’re not going to defend that guy. You see what he did?”
“I’m just saying there’s no need for violence,” the onlooker repeats.
"There will be,” the man appears to say before everyone is ushered away from the bar.
Two days later, long before the incident became public, Carlson complained on a National Review podcast that he couldn’t go to restaurants anymore without being cursed out.
“I get yelled at,” he said. “It just wrecks your meal.”
Avenatti said he will likely file a complaint of assault and battery against the man and complaints of violent threats against Carlson and his son. Fox News has not replied to a request for comment on the accusations.
“I think any father can understand the overwhelming rage and shock that I felt seeing my teenage daughter attacked by a stranger,” Carlson wrote in his statement this weekend. “But I restrained myself. I did not assault this man, and neither did my son.”
Nor, he said, did he know anything about Granados’s ethnicity or sexual orientation before the incident. “Not that it would have mattered," Carlson said.
Carlson said he complained to management at the country club immediately afterward, and Granados’s membership was revoked after a three-week investigation.
In a statement to The Washington Post, the club’s management declined to comment on the investigation but disputed “inaccurate allegations being spread by individuals who were not present during the incident, and whose interpretation of events are refuted by the accounts of multiple eyewitnesses.”
The club did not identify the witnesses its investigators spoke to. Neither did Avenatti, who provided statements from two people he said were at the bar and never heard Granados insult Carlson’s daughter.
Avenatti did confirm his client’s membership was revoked last week. He blamed Carlson.
"There’s no question he’s attempting to use his notoriety and influence to have this man excluded from the club,” the lawyer said.