Tucker Carlson leaves Fox News

The network said in a statement that Carlson’s last program was on Friday

Tucker Carlson poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio on March 2, 2017, in New York.
Tucker Carlson poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio on March 2, 2017, in New York.Richard Drew (AP)

Tucker Carlson, a beacon of the American far-right, is leaving Fox News, the network announced on Monday. Carlson, the popular and controversial primetime host of Tucker Carlson Tonight, was one of Fox’s biggest assets. The announcement comes just under a week after Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems to avoid a defamation lawsuit over having spread the lie that the 2020 U.S. presidential election had been stolen from former president Donald Trump.

“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” the network said in press release. “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as contributor.” The company added that Carlson’s last program was last Friday, so he will not have the opportunity to say goodbye to his loyal viewers. During the April 21 show Carlson did not show any signs that he knew that night’s program would be his last, and on Monday morning the network was still broadcasting promotions for the evening program with him as the host. In the absence of Carlson’s version of what happened, everything points to an unfriendly parting of ways.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Carlson was fired in relation to a discrimination complaint filed by producer Abby Grossberg, who was also fired from the network last month. Grossberg accuses Carlson of creating “a misogynistic work environment.” The Los Angeles newspaper also assures that the decision to let Carlson go was made personally by Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp., a media conglomerate founded by Rupert Murdoch to which Fox News belongs along with the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.

From now on, the slot left by Carlson, who hosted the highest rated show on cable television in the country, will be renamed Fox News Tonight. It will continue to be at 8:00 p.m. ET “as as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named,” the network said. Harris Faulkner, one of the network’s anchor, read on air this morning the company’s statement announcing Carlson’s departure with a solemn cadence.

The news caused a real earthquake in the U.S. media ecosystem, as many begun to theorize about what may be behind the departure of what until Friday was one of the network’s stars. Carlson’s program formed an ultra-conservative triptych in prime time with Sean Hannity’s show at 9:00 p.m. ET and Laura Ingraham’s at 10:00 p.m. ET. To get a sense of what Carlson’s exit means for Fox News, the network’s stock market value fell as much as 5% after the announcement.

Provocative messages

Carlson, 53, began collaborating with Fox in 2009 and premiered Tucker Carlson Tonight in 2017. The program took its big leap forward during the pandemic. The host successfully took advantage of the convulsive and polarizing culture of the United States and radicalized his audience with provocative and controversial shows. The primetime program gave fuel to the theories — which have been proven false time and again in the courts — that the Democrats stole the election that brought Joe Biden to the White House.

He spread racist theories such as the Great Replacement, which argues that leftist elites, with a little help from Jews, are trying to destroy the white race in the West by diluting it with interracial marriages, unchecked immigrant influxes and advances in minority voting rights. He championed the resistance of the anti-vaccine movement and of parents who opposed the use of facemasks in schools during the Covid-19 pandemic. He also supported efforts to ban school subjects that center on race and gender issues. And he spearheaded attacks on trans people, especially in the field of women’s sports, an issue that he made —at the same pace as the most extreme wing of the Republican Party — one of his fetish issues. On international issues, which he dealt with to a lesser extent, he opposed the U.S. helping Ukraine to defend itself from the Russian invasion and revered “strongmen” such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban or Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

However, his rise to fame was somewhat slow. In the 1990s and the early 2000s, this Californian, married to his high school sweetheart and father of four, stood out in the competitive Washington news jungle as a conservative reporter who distinguished himself by wearing a bow tie and gracefully wrote long stories in magazines across the political spectrum, in a style that borrowed from that of his two heroes: the gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson and the British essayist Christopher Hitchens. When the print press business shrank to the point of making it too difficult for a freelancer like him to survive, he jumped into television.

He was a contributor to political programs on CNN, had his own space on the progressive MSNBC, participated in Dancing with the Stars and founded a political website called The Daily Caller, which did not bear the fruits he expected. He eventually landed at Fox News, where he gradually rose to become the network’s star.

His relationship with Donald Trump has always been strained, although both have shown that they know how to be practical when the occasion deserves it: the Republican 2024 candidate recently gave Carlson his first interview after his indictment in New York.

In 2016, the year Trump was elected, Carlson, who in 1999 defined him as “the most repulsive person on the planet,” wrote in Politico an article titled “Donald Trump Is Shocking, Vulgar and Right,” in which he argued that the Republican’s rise to power was due to “ordinary people” being fed up with the “intellectual corruption” of the Washington elites, especially the Republican ones, from which he himself comes from.

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