Fox News Media and its most popular anchor Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways less than a week after parent company Fox Corp (FOXA.O) settled a defamation lawsuit in which Carlson played a prominent role for $787.5 million.
His prime-time show, "Tucker Carlson Tonight", was the highest-rated cable news program in the vital 25-to-54 age demographic on the most-watched U.S. cable news channel. Monday's news, announced by Fox, resulted in a 2.9% decline in the stock price.
Dominion Voting Systems alleged in its lawsuit that Carlson allowed debunked election-fraud claims about the voting technology company to air on his program while casting doubt on the plausibility of such claims in private messages that surfaced in legal documents.
Carlson is also crucial in Fox's additional legal battles, including a suit filed by his former chief of booking, Abby Grossberg, who claims Fox coerced her to testify in the Dominion case.
Grossberg accused network attorneys of pressuring her to provide misleading testimony and claimed Fox exposed her and other women to pervasive sexism and misogyny last month. Fox terminated Grossberg, claiming her legal claims were "riddled with false allegations against Fox and our employees."
Fox News said, "We thank him for his service to the network as a host and, before that, as a contributor." As a result of Carlson's embrace of controversy, advertisers have abandoned his program, leaving Fox without one of its biggest stars.
According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott decided Friday night that it was time to separate ways with Tucker Carlson.
According to a third source, "Tucker Carlson Tonight" senior executive producer Justin Wells was also let go by Fox News on Monday.
Kentucky Republican U.S. Representative Thomas Massie stated that Fox would suffer from Tucker Carlson's departure. "Tucker Carlson will depart Fox News. He was the most audacious they had! This is a significant loss for Fox," he tweeted.
In the weeks after Biden was proclaimed the 2020 election winner, smaller, more conservative competitors to Fox, such as Newsmax, gained viewers by questioning election results. Dominion alleged that Fox staff, ranging from Tucker Carlson and newsroom members to the board of directors, knew the statements about Dominion were false but continued to air them to prevent losing viewers.
"For some time now, Fox News has been transitioning to become establishment media, and Tucker Carlson's departure is a major milestone in that effort," Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said in a statement.
Some Fox viewers in the extremely conservative region of West Texas expressed astonishment and anger at Carlson's removal.
Mark Gudelman, a 67-year-old retiree from Shallowater, Texas, was in a Dollar General store when he remarked, "My wife and I were just discussing this, and we think it's a real shame they took him off the air because he was a true conservative voice."
After Trump's perceived betrayal in 2020, four conservatives in Shallowater told Reuters that they had ceased watching Fox News. They now prefer what they perceive to be even more authentically conservative publications, such as Newsmax and One America News.
Dominion is also suing Newsmax and One America News for making similarly discredited voting-rigging allegations.
According to the company's statement, the last Carlson program aired on April 21. It was stated that beginning Monday, "Fox News Tonight" will air live at 8 p.m. EDT under the leadership of rotating Fox News personalities until a new anchor is named.
Following the news of Carlson's departure from Fox News, a representative for former President Donald Trump tweeted, "Fox News is controlled opposition." Earlier this month, Trump gave an interview with Carlson that was broadcast on Fox.
In an interview with Newsmax on Monday, Trump described Carlson as "a very good person with a great deal of talent." He stated that he did not know whether Carlson's departure was voluntary or involuntary.
Republican U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, was fast to support Tucker Carlson. Shortly after the news broke, she tweeted, "I stand with Tucker Carlson!"
Carlson became a contributor for Fox News in 2009 and a co-host for "Fox & Friends Weekend" in 2012. In November 2016, he began hosting his prime-time talk program. Fox announced a multiyear agreement with Carlson in 2021 to supply content for its Fox Nation streaming service.