His exit, coming a week after network parent Fox Corp agreed to pay $787 million to settle a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems Inc., 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 Monday in a statement.
His last show was on Friday, the network said. Fox will employ a series of rotating hosts in Carlson’s 8 p.m. time slot until a successor is named.
Before the settlement, Carlson, 53, was among a handful Fox figures, including company Chairman Rupert Murdoch, scheduled to testify in the case. The others were Murdoch’s son, Lachlan, who is Fox Corp’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 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. CNN reported in 2020 that he earned about $10 million a year.
Excluding sports, Tucker Carlson Tonight is the top rated prime-time 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 Monday 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 is the latest big-name personality 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. Last week, Dan Bongino, host of the weekend Fox News show Unfiltered, left after saying he couldn’t come to terms over a contract extension with the network.
Andrew Tyndall, who writes a newsletter about broadcast news, said he didn’t think Carlson’s departure would hurt Fox News much because its publicity department would make a star out of whoever replaces him in his time slot.
Fox News “has survived and thrived as it lost (or got rid of) Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly and Shep Smith,” Tyndall said. “Its viewers watch the channel, not the personality.”