Stunning news to begin the week: Fox News Media announced Monday morning that it is parting ways with the top-rated and most influential host on cable news, Tucker Carlson.
“We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor,” Fox News said.
According to the network, Carlson’s last program was Friday, April 21. Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 p.m. ET starting Monday evening as an interim show hosted by rotating Fox News on-air talent until a new host is named.
Brian Kilmeade is guest-hosting the 8 p.m. hour tonight and will most certainly address Carlson’s exit.
Carlson had signed a new contract with Fox News two years ago, one that included an expansion of Carlson-fronted programming for the company’s Fox Nation streaming service.
His exit comes just days after Fox News and Fox Corp settled their defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for a record $787.5 million over the network’s promotion of ex-President Donald Trump’s false 2020 presidential election claims.
Many wondered if the Murdoch family would make any substantial changes at the network in light of the settlement. Well, here’s one.
Carlson was a relevant figure in the Dominion defamation lawsuit, as we’ve detailed countless times in recent weeks. Carlson made disparaging remarks about Fox colleagues (and former President Trump) in private messages that were uncovered during the discovery process.
Additionally, a former producer and high-level booker at the network named Abby Grossberg recently accused Carlson and his show staff of making anti-Semitic and misogynistic remarks behind the scenes on a frequent basis.
There was also Sunday’s 60 Minutes story about Ray Epps, a Trump supporter who went into hiding after becoming the target of a Jan. 6 conspiracy theory claiming he worked for the FBI and helped incite the infamous Capitol insurrection. Epps told 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker that Carlson was “obsessed” with him, adding that he was “going to any means possible to destroy my life.”
Carlson had mentioned Epps on his Fox News show at least six times this year to-date, Whitaker reported.
It’s very possible, if not likely, that these issues factored into Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch and Suzanne Scott‘s collective decision to part ways with the network’s most popular host.
Carlson’s executive producer Justin Wells is exiting Fox News as well, Semafor reports, citing two sources familiar with the matter. Wells joined Fox News in 2008 as a senior producer for On The Record with Greta Van Susteren. Wells remained in Van Susteren’s 7 p.m. timeslot even after she left the network, producing Brit Hume at 7 p.m. and even Carlson’s brief stint in the timeslot before sticking with him at 9 and eventually 8 p.m.
Carlson, a cable news mainstay for 25 years, spent five years at CNN and three years at MSNBC before joining Fox News in 2009 as a contributor. Early on in his tenure, Carlson frequently appeared on Greg Gutfeld‘s now-defunct late-night show, Red Eye, and became a substitute host for Hannity before being named a co-host on Fox & Friends Weekend in 2013.
In November 2016, Carlson got his own show, Tucker Carlson Tonight. The program originally aired in the 7 p.m. hour before moving to 9 p.m. in January 2017 after Megyn Kelly moved to NBC News. It eventually settled in the network’s key 8 p.m. hour in April 2017. Carlson was the first person to hold the 8 p.m. slot on a permanent basis after Bill O’Reilly’s infamous 2016 exit.
Fast forward six years, and Carlson is not only the most-watched cable news host, but he’s also the most influential and talked-about person in the news business, love him or loathe him.
The decision to part ways with Carlson comes a few days after Fox parted ways with another opinion host on the network, Dan Bongino. In that case, both sides were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension.