Fox News and Tucker Carlson, the right-wing extremist who hosted the network’s highly rated 8pm hour, have severed ties, the network said in a stunning announcement Monday.
Monday’s shocking announcement that Fox had parted ways with Carlson appeared to come abruptly.
Just prior to the network’s announcement, Fox had been promoting on its air a Monday night interview by Carlson with GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. And on Carlson’s Friday show, he concluded the program saying “we’ll be back on Monday.”
The announcement came one week after Fox News settled a monster defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million over the network’s dissemination of election lies. Fox News said that Carlson’s last show was Friday, April 21.
Carlson was a top promoter of conspiracy theories and radical rhetoric at the network. Not only did he repeatedly sow doubt about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, but he also promoted conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccines and elevated white nationalist talking points.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, praised Fox News’ decision, saying it is “about time” and that “for far too long, Tucker Carlson has used his primetime show to spew antisemitic, racist, xenophobic and anti-LGBTQ hate to millions.”
Tucker Carlson was a key figure in Dominion Voting Systems’ mammoth defamation lawsuit against Fox News, which the parties settled last week on the brink of trial for a historic $787 million.
In some ways, Carlson played an outsized role in the litigation: Only one of the 20 allegedly defamatory Fox broadcasts mentioned in the lawsuit came from Carlson’s top-rated show. But, as CNN exclusively reported, he was set to be one of Dominion’s first witnesses to testify at trial. And his private text messages, which became public as part of the suit, reverberated nationwide.
Dominion got its hands on Carlson’s group chat with fellow Fox primetime stars Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and a trove of other messages from around the 2020 presidential election.
These communications revealed that Carlson told confidants that he “passionately” hated former President Donald Trump and that Trump’s tenure in the White House was a “disaster.” He also used misogynistic terms to criticize pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and reject her conspiracies about the 2020 election – even as those wild theories got airtime on Fox News.
The lawsuit exposed how Carlson privately held a wholly different view than his on-air persona. A Dominion spokesperson did not comment on Carlson’s departure from Fox.
But it’s unclear if Carlson’s departure is directly connected to the Dominion case or other lawsuits related to Fox’s election denialism. The statement that Fox issued Monday didn’t offer any explanation for Carlson’s departure.
Carlson was also one of the biggest promoters of conspiracy theories in right-wing media, sowing doubt about the 2020 presidential election, the January 6 insurrection, and Covid-19 vaccines.
In the two years since the attack on the US Capitol, the Fox primetime host used his huge platform to amplify paper-thin theories that the attack was a false-flag operation orchestrated by the FBI and government agents because they loathed Trump, and that the criminal rioters were themselves the victims.
The baseless theory originated from a right-wing website, and Carlson catapulted it into the mainstream by repeatedly featuring it on his show. He routinely suggested that Capitol rioter and Trump supporter Ray Epps was actually an FBI provocateur who sparked the deadly riot.
In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday night, Epps had this to say about Carlson’s lies: “He’s obsessed with me. He’s going to any means possible to destroy my life and our lives.”
Carlson’s disinformation campaign about January 6 reached its apex just a few months ago, with an assist from the newly installed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican.
The top-rated Fox host obtained and aired never-before-seen footage from Capitol security cameras, but the clips were cherry-picked and selectively edited. He said on his program that he ran the tapes by the US Capitol Police before airing the material, but they disputed his claim.
Abby Grossberg, the ex-Fox News producer who has since disavowed the network, claimed in recent lawsuits that there was rampant sexism and misogyny among Tucker Carlson’s show team.
Grossberg, who joined Carlson’s team after the 2020 election, said in her lawsuit that after her first day on the job that “it became apparent how pervasive the misogyny and drive to embarrass and objectify women was among the male staff at TCT,” referring to “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Fox News is aggressively fighting two lawsuits from Grossberg. A Fox spokesperson previously said the lawsuits were “riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees.”
In a lawsuit filed last month, Grossberg said Carlson “was very capable of using such disgusting language about women in the workplace.” She cited some of Carlson’s private texts, where he used the phrase “c-nt” to refer to Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, a top 2020 election denier.
Her lawsuits also describe seeing sexually suggestive posters that were visible in the workplace, facing “uncomfortable sexual questions” about her former Fox News boss Maria Bartiromo, and witnessing internal debates on which women politicians were “more f–kable.”
In a TV interview, she said the sexual harassment was so bad that she considered suicide.
Carlson’s departure at Fox News comes after the network also severed ties with right-wing bomb thrower Dan Bongino, who had been a regular fixture on the network’s programming, in addition to hosting a weekend show.
“Folks, regretfully, last week was my last show on Fox News on the Fox News Channel,” Bongino said on Rumble, chalking up the exit to a contract dispute.
“So the show ending last week was tough. And I want you to know it’s not some big conspiracy. I promise you. There’s not, there’s no acrimony. This wasn’t some, like, WWE brawl that happened. We just couldn’t come to terms on an extension. And that’s really it.”
Fox News responded in a statement, “We thank Dan for his contributions and wish him success in his future endeavors.”
Shares of Fox Corp.
(FOXA) fell 5% on the news. The stock had been up slightly before the announcement. Carlson did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.