Fox News host Tucker Carlson was reportedly “blindsided” when he received a call from CEO Suzanne Scott on Monday morning, informing him that he had been fired from the network, according to sources.
Tucker Carlson, who was in the midst of negotiating a new contract, had recently been in talks to renew his contract through 2029, according to a Vanity Fair report.
The news came just days after Fox News settled a $787 million defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems over disputed claims made by Carlson and others at the network about the 2020 presidential election. Insiders revealed that the order for Carlson’s termination is believed to have come directly from Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who owns Fox News.
On Monday night, his “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show was awkwardly replaced with “Fox News Tonight” hosted by Brian Kilmeade, who brushed over Carlson’s sudden departure.
“As you probably have heard, Fox News and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” he said.
“I wish Tucker the best. I’m great friends with Tucker and always will be. But right now, it’s time for ‘Fox News Tonight,’ so let’s get started.”
Bill O’Reilly, who preceded Tucker Carlson in the coveted primetime 8 p.m. slot, believed that Carlson’s termination came amidst more potential lawsuits related to the 2020 election, as well as an ongoing lawsuit filed by former Fox News booker Abby Grossberg.
Because the pending litigation was harpooned this morning,” O’Reilly told Chris Cuomo of NewsNation. “Carlson didn’t know.”
“It just happened,” he went on. “And that’s the nature of television news, the most wicked industry in the United States of America.”
O’Reilly predicted that Fox News would take a big hit in the ratings following Tucker Carlson’s departure.
“Tucker Carlson took over from me. For the first three years his ratings were soft. He lost about a million, maybe a little bit more of my audience, and then in 2020 he took a hard right turn,” O’Reilly said. “Carlson basically programmed for a very hard right audience and his numbers came up.”
As the Daily Beast reported on Monday night, the Fox News bloodletting came at the behest of the Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott.
“In Carlson’s case, it was Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott who made the call on Friday night to can him and his show, Confider has learned, thanks largely (and surprisingly) in part to vulgar comments he made about Sidney Powell, the right-wing lawyer behind many of the bonkers 2020 election lies pushed on Fox’s airwaves,” the report said.
“Tucker was already pissing off Fox management between his conspiracy-laden coverage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, including the repeated and baseless targeting of Trump supporter Ray Epps as being an FBI agent who instigated the insurrection; a looming lawsuit from his former producer Abby Grossberg alleging a sexist work environment; and his disparaging remarks about Fox brass in documents made public,” the report added.
Fox News letting go of Tucker Carlson and Dan Bongino, as two of the strongest conservative voices on Fox News, surely signals a pivot away from the pro-Trump base, as board member Paul Ryan advocated in a newly leaked court document. It bears watching if Fox News cuts ties with more pro-Trump voices ahead of its 2024 election coverage.
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.