NEWS NETWORK SHAKEUP
Tucker Carlson and Fox News part ways in the wake of costly Dominion defamation settlement
His exit, coming a week after Fox agreed to pay $787m to settle a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, leaves a big hole in the schedule of the No 1 cable network.
Fox News is parting ways with Tucker Carlson, its most popular primetime host who was also the source of repeated controversies over his statements on everything from election fairness to LGBTQI+ rights.
His exit, coming a week after Fox agreed to pay $787-million to settle a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, leaves a big hole in the schedule of the No 1 cable network.
“Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor,” the company said on Monday in a statement.
His last show was on Friday, the network said. Fox will employ a series of rotating hosts in Carlson’s 8pm time slot until a successor is named.
Before the settlement, Carlson (53) was among a handful of Fox Corporation figures, including chairperson Rupert Murdoch, scheduled to testify in the case. The others were Murdoch’s son, Lachlan, who is Fox Corporation’s chief executive officer; Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and network host Maria Bartiromo.
Shares of Fox, which is controlled by the Murdoch family, fell by as much as 5.4% to $31.80 in New York, the steepest loss since October.
In recent years, Carlson, a former editor at the Weekly Standard and co-host on CNN, has transformed into the biggest star at Fox News.
Excluding sports, Tucker Carlson Tonight was the top-rated primetime show on cable TV, according to the most recent Nielsen ratings, with a nightly audience that at times exceeded 3.7 million viewers.
In the TV season that started in September, Fox News averaged 2.2 million viewers a night, more than MSNBC and CNN combined. CNN said on Monday that one of its top personalities, Don Lemon, would leave the network.
But Carlson’s controversial comments on air often caused problems for Fox’s business. Over the years, he has seen several advertisers boycott the show over his commentary. In 2018, for instance, marketers pulled their ads after he said immigrants make the US “poorer and dirtier and more divided”.
Carlson’s departure marks the latest big name to leave the network. In 2017, former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly left amid allegations of misconduct. Two years later, longtime Fox News anchor Shepard Smith departed. DM