Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon Departed Their Networks One Year Ago. Here’s What’s Happened Since.

By Mark Mwachiro 

Exactly one year ago today—April 24, 2023—the media world was rocked by the back-to-back announcements that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and CNN’s Don Lemon had parted ways with their respective networks. Both departures happened within an hour of each other—an hour that shook the cable news industry. Both Carlson and Lemon also left without an opportunity for on-air goodbyes despite their larger-than-life presences in their respective newsrooms.

Carlson’s tenure at Fox ended in the wake of Fox News and Fox Corp settling their defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems over allegations that the network had promoted former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election. Fox paid a hefty $787.5 million to settle the case, which Carlson would have figured into prominently due to private messages filled with derogatory comments that came to light during the discovery process.

Lemon, meanwhile, fell out of favor with then-CNN head Chris Licht for a variety of reasons, including the uproar he faced after making misogynistic remarks about Nikki Haley on CNN This Morning in March 2023. Speaking of the former South Carolina governor-turned-Republican presidential candidate, the anchor said: “Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime. Sorry, when a woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, and 30s, and maybe 40s.”


His off-the-cuff comments were followed by an awkward exchange with co-anchors, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow, and reportedly led Licht to speak with Lemon off-air. Lemon later issued an apology on social media.

Now that a year has elapsed since those abrupt departures, TVNewser is looking back at how Fox and CNN have fared without their one-time stars.

Fox News

The aftermath of Carlson’s departure proves that the Fox News brand is more powerful than its personalities. Like Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Megyn Kelly and Shepard Smith before him, Carlson’s exit hasn’t dented Fox News’ viewership armor.

In fact, the network continues to hum along nicely in the ratings as the most-watched cable news network in total viewers as well as in the A25-54 demo. Jesse Watters—who took over from Carlson in the 8 p.m. slot with Jesse Watters Primetime—was the most-watched primetime program in cable news for the week of April 15, averaging 2.6 million viewers and 249,000 in the demo.

Since leaving Fox News, Carlson has forged a partnership with the Elon Musk-owned X, formerly known as Twitter, where he posts his monologues and interviews. In December, Carlson launched the Tucker Carlson Network, a $9-a-month video subscription service featuring long-form interviews, commentaries, news reporting and in-depth investigations.

Speaking of long-form interviews, Carlson recently became the first American journalist to speak at length with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But that conversation generated few headlines and was negatively received stateside.


A lot has happened since Lemon was last seen in a CNN anchor’s chair, with the network going through significant off-air and on-air changes. Licht was dismissed from the network in June 2023 following a rocky tenure and an unflattering profile piece published in The Atlantic. CNN’s communications chief Kristine Coratti Kelly and her deputy Matt Dornic followed Licht out of the building.

Former New York Times CEO Mark Thompson has since replaced Licht and has made his own changes to the network, including a revamp of the morning line-up. The previous iteration of CNN This Morning ended its run in February, with Kasie Hunt currently anchoring a rebranded version that airs from 5-7 a.m. Collins has since moved to primetime, while Harlow’s next role with the network has yet to be unveiled.

In January, Lemon announced that—like Carlson before him—he would be teaming up with X for his first post-CNN venture, The Don Lemon Show. But those plans fell apart after a tense on-camera interview with his new boss. Visibly unhappy with Lemon’s tough line of questioning, Musk ended up cancelling the journalist’s contract. “We had a good conversation,” Lemon wrote in statement posted to social media. “Clearly he felt differently.”

Unlike Carlson, Lemon appears to have made peace with his former network. Following the termination of his X contract, he appeared as a guest on Erin Burnett OutFront to discuss his interview with Musk. For the record, The Don Lemon Show is still streaming on YouTube, various podcast platforms… and on X.