Fox News and Tucker Carlson announce shock split days after US$787.5m defamation settlement

PHOTO: Tucker Carlson (The Whiskey Cowboy)

Tucker Carlson, the conservative face of Fox News and host of the network’s top-rated show, has unexpectedly left the broadcaster just days after it settled a defamation lawsuit for a colossal sum. The prominent presenter was a prominent figure within Republican circles and regularly interviewed former US President Donald Trump. Critics have accused him of disseminating false information and engaging in race-baiting and hate speech.

In a succinct statement today, Fox News announced the departure without providing any explanation, simply stating…

“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 53 year old Carlson, who joined the network in 2009, has not publicly commented on his exit.

As host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the outspoken presenter frequently took aim at liberal policies, garnering a loyal and passionate right-wing viewership in the process. His strong stance on issues such as immigration and gun control resonated with his audience, making his show one of the most successful in cable television.

The recent settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, which amounted to US$787.5 million, ensured that neither Rupert Murdoch, Fox Corporation’s Chairman, nor high-profile hosts such as Tucker Carlson would need to appear in court during a potentially volatile trial. However, pre-trial documents showed that senior figures within Fox News were aware of falsehoods being spread concerning the 2020 election and even expressed concern about losing viewers to rival stations.

In disclosed private messages, Carlson revealed his dislike for Trump, commenting that he “hate[d] him passionately” and was keen for the day he could “ignore Trump most nights.” Despite his apparent animosity toward the former president, Carlson’s recent interview with Trump, after the latter’s indictment on criminal charges, appeared to be conducted on friendly terms.

Critics have long accused the presenter of fuelling divisive rhetoric, with the Media Matters group going so far as to label him a “dangerous misinformer” who has “served as the bridge between Fox News and the most extreme parts of the right-wing base.” Regardless of such characterizations, Fox News continued to support Carlson, as his show remained a reliable source of attention, viewership, and ad revenue.

In a defamation suit last year, the network’s lawyers argued that viewers should approach Carlson’s show with scepticism, even though its catchphrase claimed it to be “the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness and groupthink.”

While public perception paints him as a powerful voice in American politics, Carlson’s private life is notably low-key. He resides in rural Maine, a significant distance from the country’s political epicentre, and often broadcasts his show from his home. On Friday evening, he presented his final episode in a relaxed manner, eating pizza and signing off by promising to “be back on Monday… see you then.”

News of his sudden departure stunned both Washington D.C. and Wall Street, contributing to a nearly 4% decline in Fox News’ share price. Rumours surrounding Carlson’s interest in a political career have circulated for years, although the presenter has denied harbouring any presidential ambitions.

For the time being, Fox News has announced that a rotating roster of hosts will take over Carlson’s much sought-after 8pm time slot until a permanent replacement is found. In other media news, CNN has recently dismissed seasoned presenter Don Lemon after he made remarks about women and ageing, which many construed as sexist.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!