Right-wing prime-time host Tucker Carlson is leaving Fox News immediately, the cable network announced Monday.
The announcement came days after Fox News’ parent company settled Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit for $787.5 million. The company’s hosts were not required to talk about the lawsuit, or make an apology for it, as part of the settlement, CNBC previously reported.
“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” the company said in a statement Monday. “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”
There will be no send-off for Carlson, as his last program aired Friday. Carlson had signed off Friday saying he would be back Monday. Carlson’s program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” has long been one of Fox’s top rated programs.
The company wouldn’t comment beyond the release, or around whether Carlson was being taken off air in response to the Dominion defamation case. Fox News did not offer a statement on Carlson’s behalf.
Fox Corp. Class A shares closed down about 3% on Monday.
News of Carlson’s exit came on the same day that CNN anchor Don Lemon said he’d been fired from the network and a day after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was dismissed for having an inappropriate relationship with an employee.
Carlson, 53, was among the Fox hosts and executives who were questioned as part of the Dominion lawsuit. Several of his emails and texts were part of the evidence released before the settlement, as well. In addition, Dominion’s attorneys had listed about 20 episodes that appeared on Fox’s networks as evidence of defamation, with Carlson’s among them.
Other hosts who were deposed and part of the evidence included Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as former host Lou Dobbs.
Dominion sued Fox and its networks, arguing the networks “intentionally and falsely” blamed Dominion for the 2020 loss of former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden by airing unsubstantiated claims that the company’s machines rigged the election.
Carlson was among the top anchors who expressed disbelief and skepticism behind the scenes about comments being made on air, particularly by guests like pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell.
“It’s unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” Carlson said in one text message in the weeks after the election, court papers show.
Dominion pointed to the drop in Fox’s audience following election night, when the network called Arizona for Biden. Behind the scenes, Carlson and his fellow hosts expressed “the threat to them personally.” In a message to his producer on Nov. 5, Carlson said: “We worked really hard to build what we have. Those f—-ers are destroying our credibility. It enrages me.”
In the weeks following the election, Fox hosted Powell, as well as Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell on air at which point they repeated the false claims that Dominion rigged the election.
And while Carlson recently hosted Trump on Fox News in recent weeks after his indictment in New York, Carlson had called Trump “a demonic force” after Jan. 6, when a violent mob of Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol.
Carlson was among the witnesses slated to testify had the lawsuit gone to trial. On that list of witnesses was also Abby Grossberg, a former Fox producer who worked on the shows of Bartiromo and Carlson.
In the weeks leading up to the scheduled trial start date, Grossberg came forward alleging she was coerced into providing misleading testimony as part of the Dominion lawsuit. Fox has said Grossberg made “unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against Fox and our employees.”
Grossberg’s attorneys said in court papers that she was fired by Fox in retaliation. She has filed lawsuits against Fox in New York and Delaware, accusing the network of discrimination.
Grossberg cheered Carlson’s departure in a statement Monday, saying, “This is a step towards accountability for the election lies and baseless conspiracy theories spread by Fox News, something I witnessed firsthand at the network, as well as for the abuse and harassment I endured while Head of Booking and Senior Producer for Tucker Carlson Tonight. I think this is great for America! It’s a big win for viewers of cable news, not just those who watch Fox.”
Carlson took over Bill O’Reilly’s prime time slot on Fox in 2017 after O’Reilly left the network under controversy. O’Reilly has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple former Fox employees. He has denied the allegations.
While the Dominion lawsuit was unlikely to affect Fox’s business, it was unclear the toll it would take on its programming and hosts.
Shortly after Smartmatic, another voting tech company, sued Fox for defamation in 2021, Dobbs’ weekday program on Fox Business was canceled. Dobbs is named as a defendant in the Smartmatic lawsuit, which is ongoing and isn’t slated to go to trial until 2025. At the time, Fox said the show’s cancellation was in the works before the lawsuit.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.