Right-wing primetime 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 on Monday. “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”
There will be no sendoff for Carlson, as his last program aired on Friday. Carlson had signed off on Friday stating he would be back on Monday.
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 Corp. class A shares were down about 4% on Monday.
Carlson, 53, was among the hosts and executives that 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 that 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 that 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 following 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.
While the Dominion lawsuit was unlikely to affect Fox’s business – its stock remained stable in recent months as evidence showing the hosts and executives’ skepticism about the election fraud claims being made on air – 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 prior to the lawsuit.
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.