The dramatic departure of far-right personality Tucker Carlson from Fox News was revealed on Monday.
Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have mutually decided to split ways, according to a statement from the network. “We thank him for his service to the network both as a host and, prior to that, a contributor.”
According to the announcement, Friday marked the airing of Carlson’s final episode. The network said that starting on Monday, a rotating cast of personalities would headline the 8 p.m. ET time slot until a new permanent presenter is chosen.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Carlson learned of his termination 10 minutes before it was made public.
The decision to oust Carlson came from Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old Fox owner, with input from senior Fox officials, the Los Angeles Times reported. Rupert Murdoch’s son and Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott made the decision to fire Carlson on Friday evening, according to the Washington Post.
It was connected to a lawsuit filed by Abby Grossberg, a former senior booking producer on Carlson’s show who claims she faced sexism and a hostile work environment, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Justin Wells, Carlson’s executive producer, is also leaving the network, Semafor reported.
Murdoch was also concerned by Carlson’s embrace of the idea that the January 6 attack on Congress was instigated by the government. On Sunday, CBS 60 Minutes broadcast a segment on Ray Epps, a Texas man Carlson has falsely accused of being an FBI plant at the Capitol.
The Fox host Harris Faulkner addressed Carlson’s departure on air on Monday morning, saying the network and Carlson had “mutually” agreed to separate.
“We want to thank Tucker Carlson for his service to the network,” she said.
Carlson is leaving less than a week after Fox settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5m. Filings in the case featured scores of vulgar text messages from Carlson in which he said he “hated [Donald] Trump passionately” and called Sidney Powell, a lawyer for the former president who was spreading false election information, a liar.
“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” he wrote in one text message in January 2021.
“Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” he wrote in another text message in 2020.
Carlson’s exit was also related to negative comments about Fox management revealed in the Dominion case, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with Fox thinking.
“Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience?” Carlson wrote in one text to his producer.
“We’re playing with fire, for real,” he wrote in another message just after election day, when Fox made an early call for Joe Biden.
“Those fuckers are destroying our credibility,” he wrote. “A combination of incompetent liberals and top leadership with too much pride to back down is what’s happening,” he added later.
A spokesperson for Dominion declined to comment. Fox faces a similar $2.7bn defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic, another voting equipment company.
Carlson joined Fox as a contributor in 2009 and became one of its biggest stars after getting his own show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, in 2016. Last year, he became the most-watched host, averaging 3.32 million total viewers, according to the Washington Post. He also had the most viewers in the sought-after 25-54 demographic.
In his climb to the top of the Fox ratings, Carlson relied on xenophobia and stoked white fears about America’s changing demographics.
“Mr Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news – and also, by some measures, the most successful,” the New York Times wrote last year. “Though he frequently declares himself an enemy of prejudice … his show teaches loathing and fear. Night after night, hour by hour, Mr Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege.”
Carlson has embraced the “great replacement theory”: the idea that Jews and Democrats want to replace white people with non-white voters. After the murder of George Floyd by police officers in 2020, he belittled Black Lives Matter protesters as “criminal mobs”.
He has also downplayed the January 6 attack, recently airing selectively edited footage as he tried to frame the insurrection as peaceful. He has decried a so-called crisis of manliness, airing a special that promoted using tanning therapy on testicles.
Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media watchdog, predicted that other hosts would pick up Carlson’s vitriol.
“Tucker served as the bridge between Fox News and the most extreme parts of the rightwing base – laundering anti-trans paranoia, Infowars nonsense, election lies and venomous rhetoric including the great replacement conspiracy theory nightly,” Carusone said.
“The Fox News audience is primed and ready to believe whatever lies and vitriol the next eight o’clock hour host comes ready to spew. Ahead of Carlson’s departure, Fox has already been leaning into toxic hate as a business model by elevating extremists like Jesse Watters and Jeanine Pirro who now stand ready to try to capture Tucker’s audience.”
Grossberg, the former producer now suing Carlson, alleges that on her first day of work, pictures of the California Democrat Nancy Pelosi in a plunging bathing suit were placed on her computer screen and around her workspace.
Grossberg also describes a newsroom-wide discussion over whether the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, or her Republican opponent, Tudor Dixon, was more attractive and which one staffers would rather have sex with.
Grossberg also alleges she was coerced into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion lawsuit. She also released evidence she said Fox had to turn over in the discovery process.
Fox denies Grossberg’s allegations. Grossberg’s attorney did not return a request for comment on Carlson’s departure.
Source | Guardian