MEDIA WATCH - Less than a week after avoiding a trial regarding its election lies with a $787.5 million settlement, Fox News announced on Monday that its top-rated prime-time host, Tucker Carlson, is leaving the network effective immediately.
Carlson's final show was Friday evening, and he closed the broadcast by telling viewers, "We'll be back on Monday," suggesting he wasn't aware of his imminent departure.
"Tucker Carlson Tonight" played a key role in the defamation lawsuit filed against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems, which accused the network of spreading misinformation about its election software as its hosts and guests repeatedly claimed votes cast for former Republican President Donald Trump in 2020 had been "flipped" for Democratic President Joe Biden.
Carlson had been expected to testify in the case before it was settled just before the trial was scheduled to begin last month. While claiming on-air that questions about the validity of the 2020 election results were part of "legitimate discourse and inquiry," uncovered text messages between Carlson and his producer showed that he found Trump's claims about the election "disgusting" and "destructive."
In addition to promoting lies about Biden's victory, Carlson spent his 14-year tenure at Fox News—as a contributor, panelist, co-host, and starting in 2016 as host of his own prime-time show—attacking immigrants and asylum-seekers, advancing the white supremacist "Great Replacement Theory," and urgingpolice to crack down on racial justice protesters.
Economist Robert Reich noted that Carlson's exit does not mean that the network will "start telling the truth."
While Fox News has given no indication that its other hosts, commentators, and guests will stop promoting similar ideas, consumer rights watchdog Public Citizen President Robert Weissman called Carlson's departure "flat-out great news."
"Anything that reduces the reach of this purveyor [of] hate, racism, reaction and authoritarianism is a positive step for America and the world," he said.
With Carlson gone, said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Fox News officials "just need to take out the rest of the trash."
Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of Media Matters for America, said Carlson was likely pushed out because he had become "toxic" for the network, even as it relied heavily on him and his millions of viewers.
"Fox News without Tucker is basically a wet paper towel: fragile and functionally useless," said Carusone. "They will try and get their footing back fast, but don't let them."
(Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams where this story was featured.)