Fox News and Tucker Carlson have “agreed” that he will no longer appear on Fox News, the company said in a very short Monday press release. The decision, Fox said, is effective immediately, meaning the show that Carlson hosted last Friday night was his last.
Carlson has hosted the 8 p.m. ET weeknight show on Fox News since 2017. He took over the job from Bill O’Reilly amid news that O’Reilly had been the subject of several workplace sexual harassment lawsuits that the network had paid at least $13 million to settle. Recently, Carlson was cited extensively in the defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems over Fox’s repeated airing of allegations that Dominion voting machines had helped fraudulently rig the 2020 election in Joe Biden’s favor. The network agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle that case last week.
Will the next Fox 8 p.m. host be able to surpass his predecessors Carlson and O’Reilly—his, in that it’s probably not going to be a lady—and cost the network one billion dollars? Is Carlson being punished for incurring such a cost, albeit after helping Fox amass high ratings and profits for years, or because Dominion’s suit revealed him (and his fellow prime-time hosts) to have essentially operated outside the control of their boss, Rupert Murdoch? Or, conversely, because the lawsuit revealed the private contempt Carlson holds for Donald Trump, who ultimately remains the figure to whom the network’s audience has its highest loyalty? (Carlson argued recently that the texts had been taken out of context. “I love Trump, like, as a person,” he said. For the record, the Washington Post has a source that thinks it might be the Murdoch thing.)
You’ll have to tune in to find out—or rather, you won’t, because the influence of Fox News’ top prime-time slot is likely to continue to be felt acutely by everyone in the United States regardless of whether they ever turn the network on, and regardless of who that host actually is, for years. The king is dead; long live the new king (Ben Shapiro or Stephen Miller or whoever. Shit. Aaron Rodgers? Ahh. This post is over).