Fox News has abruptly parted ways with influential right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson, the company announced without providing a reason for his departure.
The media network thanked Carlson in a statement on Monday, saying that he had already hosted his final show last week.
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“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 statement said. “Mr Carlson’s last program was Friday, April 21.”
Carlson had been one of the most-watched hosts in United States cable news. His show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, will be replaced by an interim programme “Fox News Tonight”, which will be hosted by “rotating Fox News personalities”, the company said.
One of the few critics of US aid to Ukraine in the mainstream media, Carlson holds views that are emblematic of the right-wing populism championed by former President Donald Trump.
The TV host has faced accusations of racism over his anti-immigrant comments and promotion of the so-called “great replacement” theory, which posits that Americans are being “replaced” through immigration.
Carlson has also regularly argued that Democrats are looking to bring new immigrants into the country to help their electoral chances.
Fox’s announcement comes less than a week after the company reached a $787m settlement with the election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems. It had accused the news network of defamation for airing claims that its machines were involved in fraud in the 2020 presidential race.
After the settlement, Fox — which had said it was merely reporting on newsworthy comments by then-President Trump — acknowledged the court’s rulings, which had found “certain claims about Dominion to be false”. But the news network stopped short of admitting wrongdoing.
Only one of the 20 claims on Fox that Dominion said were defamatory were aired on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Private text messages that became public as part of the lawsuit showed that Carlson had criticised Trump and said that he hated him “passionately” after the 2020 race. But the now ex-Fox commentator appeared to continue to enjoy good relations with the former president and hosted him for a lengthy interview earlier this month.
Carlson has been at Fox News since 2009. His first major TV job was in the early 2000s as a co-host of a CNN debate show called Crossfire, where he represented right-wing views.
Some right-wing politicians and commentators voiced support for Carlson on Monday. “You’re free & uncensored,” former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said in a tweet addressing Carlson.
Far-right Congresswoman Lauren Boebert also praised Carlson. “Wherever Tucker Carlson goes, America will follow,” Boebert wrote in a social media post.
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) April 24, 2023
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, however, appeared to welcome Carlson’s departure from Fox, speculating about the reasons behind the host’s sudden exit.
“Maybe it was the incessant lies and the racist stuff that Tucker Carlson kept spewing,” Lieu wrote on Twitter. “Or maybe Fox News no longer wanted to subsidize a host who was so toxic to most Americans that the only major advertiser for the show was a maker of mediocre pillows.”
Separately on Monday, veteran TV host Don Lemon also announced that he was informed through his agent that had been terminated by CNN.
“I am stunned. After 17 years at CNN, I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly,” Lemon said in a statement.
“At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue doing the work I have loved at the network. It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.”
CNN responded on Monday afternoon, saying Lemon’s statement was “inaccurate”.
“He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter,” the network’s communications team tweeted.
Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) April 24, 2023