Fox News Media and its most popular host, Tucker Carlson, have agreed to part ways. This comes less than a week after Fox Corp (FOXA.O), Carlson’s parent company, settled a defamation case he was a part of for $787.5 million.
Carlson was outspoken about conservative topics and gave his opinions in a way that made his prime-time show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” the highest-rated cable news show in the key 25-to-54 age group on the most-watched U.S. cable news network. The news, which was shared by the company on Monday, caused shares of Fox to close down 2.9%.
Dominion Voting Systems said in its case that Carlson let claims of election fraud against the company’s voting technology that have since been disproven air on his show, while in private messages that were found in court documents, Carlson seemed to question whether these claims were true.
Carlson is also important in other legal cases Fox is involved in, such as a suit made by his former head of booking, Abby Grossberg, who said Fox forced her to testify in the Dominion case.
Grossberg said last month that lawyers for the network tried to get her to give false evidence and that Fox showed her and other women a lot of sexism and misogyny. Fox got rid of Grossberg because her legal claims were “full of false accusations against Fox and our employees,” which is why Fox fired her.
It is not clear what Carlson will do next or why he is leaving.
Fox News said in a statement, “We thank him for his service as a host and before that as a contributor.” Even though Carlson was one of Fox’s biggest stars, sponsors have left his show because he likes to stir up trouble.
Two people with knowledge of the situation said that Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott decided Friday night that it was time to stop working with Tucker Carlson.
A third person said that Fox News fired senior executive producer of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Justin Wells on Monday.
Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that Fox would lose viewers if Carlson left. “@TuckerCarlson is going to leave Fox News. He was the most brave of all of them. This is a big loss for Fox,” he said on Twitter.
Claims of being trickedIn the weeks after Biden was named the winner of the 2020 election, smaller, more conservative competitors to Fox like Newsmax gained viewers by questioning election results. Dominion said that everyone at Fox, from Tucker Carlson to people in the newsroom to the board of directors, knew that the things they said about them were not true, but they kept saying them anyway so as not to lose more listeners.
Fox News has been making moves to become mainstream media for a while now, and Tucker Carlson’s firing is a big step in that direction’, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said in a statement.
Some Fox watchers in West Texas, which is very conservative, were shocked and angry when Carlson was fired.
“My wife and I were just talking about this, and we think it’s a shame they took him off the air because he was a true conservative voice,” said Mark Gudelman, a 67-year-old retiree who was shopping at a Dollar General store in Shallowater, Texas.
Four conservative people in Shallowater who wouldn’t give their full names but said they were conservative told Reuters that they stopped watching Fox after what they saw as a betrayal of Trump in 2020. They said that they now liked news sources that they thought were even more right, like Newsmax or One America News.
Dominion is also fighting Newsmax and One America News for making similar false claims about rigging the vote.
The company said in the statement that Carlson’s last show was on April 21. It said that “Fox News Tonight” will start airing live at 8 p.m. EDT on Monday. Until a new host is named, the show will be led by different Fox News stars.
When Carlson’s departure from Fox News was announced, a representative for former President Donald Trump wrote, “Fox News is controlled opposition.” This month, Trump did an interview with Carlson that was shown on Fox.
Trump said of Carlson in an interview with Newsmax on Monday that he was “a very good person and very talented.” He said he didn’t know whether Carlson quit on his own or was fired.
Republican U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert, who has always been a strong backer of Trump, backed Carlson right away. “I stand with Tucker Carlson!” she tweeted soon after the news came out.
Carlson became a reporter for Fox News in 2009 and a co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend” in 2012. In November 2016, he took over his prime-time show. Fox and Carlson signed a deal in 2021 for Carlson to provide material for its Fox Nation streaming service over a number of years.