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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Big win to Democrats, big loss to democracy: Tucker Carlson leaves Fox News

Big win to Democrats, big loss to democracy: Tucker Carlson leaves Fox News

The highest rated US TV hosts, Tucker Carlson, is leaving Fox News, the US media giant has announced.
In a statement, Fox News said that the network and Mr Carlson have agreed to "part ways".

His last TV programme was Friday 21 April, the statement added. His primetime slot will now be hosted by a series of interim hosts until a permanent replacement is found.

The brief two paragraph statement gave no reason for the decision.

On air, a Fox News anchor announced the departure with a tribute that thanked him "for his service to the network".

Mr Carlson was not just a popular presenter, but also a historically influential one. His shows frequently set the agenda for conservatives and, by extension, the Republican Party.

His programme offered a blend of populist conservative takes on issues ranging from immigration, crime, race, gender and sexuality, with so-called "woke" ideology and fake mainstream media becoming a frequent target of his.

It made up four of the top ten rated programmes on US cable TV, according to Nielson data for the week 27 March to 2 April.

He was Fox News' top rated host, with more than three million viewers tuning in on an average night.

While the host often publicly agreed with Donald Trump, whose politics have transformed the Republican Party in recent years, he would occasionally diverge from the former president's political views.

His recent interview with Mr Trump netted seven million viewers, unheard of in the world of US cable news.

Fox News' competitors were quick to capitalise on Mr Tucker's departure.

One rival network, Newsmax, said it had successfully attracted viewers from Fox News in recent months and Mr Tucker's departure "will only fuel that trend".

The announcement of Mr Carlson's departure comes just days after Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit from the voting machine company Dominion over its coverage of the 2020 presidential election. 

Despite his misgivings, Carlson's show was not a significant part of Dominion's defamation case, with just one of the 20 statements at issue made on his program.

In the lawsuit, Dominion argued that its business was harmed by Fox spreading false claims its machines were rigged against Mr Trump.

The case prompted disclosures of text messages that showed Mr Carlson's private views often contrasted with his on-air output.

His show, which aired in the coveted 20:00 to 21:00 EST slot, was cited repeatedly in court documents by Dominion's attorneys in their claim some of its output was defamatory.

Additionally, Fox News is also facing a lawsuit filed in March by former guest booker Abby Grossberg in which she accused Mr Carlson of "vile sexist stereotypes". Fox News has counter-sued and said it would "vigorously defend these claims".

Mr Carlson's latest interview with Mr Trump came two weeks ago, despite disclosures in the Dominion case showing he had privately said of the ex-president: "I hate him passionately."

He also interviewed Twitter CEO Elon Musk during what would become his final week on Fox News.


'Back on Monday'
His departure appears to have been sudden and came without the usual farewell that might be expected from a long-serving superstar presenter.

A video shared on Twitter by journalist Aaron Rupar appears to show Mr Carlson ending his show on Friday with the words "we'll be back on Monday".

Mr Carlson first joined Fox as a contributor in 2009 before becoming a co-host of the Fox and Friends Weekend show between 2012 and 2016, the year he began hosting the Tucker Carlson Show.

Before his Fox career began, Mr Carlson also hosted shows on CNN and MSNBC, before founding the Daily Caller website alongside former Republican political adviser Neil Patel.

His tenure at CNN ended in 2005, just months after a heated on-air exchange with Daily Show host Jon Stewart.

Fox Corporation, which owns Fox News, saw its share price drop more than 3% in New York after the announcement.

That is comparable to the initial reaction when the company announced it would pay $787m (£631m) to settle the defamation suit brought by Dominion, though the shares in that case quickly recovered.

Another cable TV host, CNN's Don Lemon, announced on Monday that he had been "terminated" by CNN after 17 years, just hours after appearing on its recently relaunched morning show.

The embattled host had come under intense public criticism earlier this year for remarks about Nikki Haley, running for the Republican presidential nomination.
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