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Tucker Carlson is leaving Fox News, network announces

Washington — Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have decided to part ways, the network announced in a statement Monday, a seismic shake-up in the cable news world given Carlson's status as the network's most-watched anchor.

Carlson's final broadcast of "Tucker Carlson Tonight" aired last Friday. The show "Fox News Tonight" is set to air as an interim show led by rotating hosts until his successor in the 8 p.m. time slot is named, Fox said.

"FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor," Fox News said in a statement.

Carlson joined Fox News as a contributor in 2009 and served as a co-host of "Fox and Friends Weekend" from 2012 to 2016. His eponymous nightly show debuted in November 2016. He moved into the 8 p.m. slot in April 2017.

News of Carlson's departure from Fox News comes days after the network reached a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. The voting technology company filed a lawsuit against the cable news giant in March 2021, accusing it of knowingly airing false statements claiming Dominion helped to rig the 2020 presidential election against former President Donald Trump.

The company specified 20 broadcasts that it said were defamatory, including a Jan. 26, 2021, episode of Carlson's show featuring MyPillow founder Mike Lindell.

Dominion and Fox News reached a settlement agreement just before lawyers for the two sides were set to deliver opening statements in Delaware state court last week.

The company's lawsuit against Fox laid bare the behind-the-scenes discussions taking place among Fox's top executives, producers and hosts, Carlson among them, after President Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election.

In an exchange with members of his staff in early January 2021, Carlson wrote, "We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can't wait," and "I hate him passionately."

Carlson also called the former president "a demonic force, a destroyer" in a text message to his producer following the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

In late March, after those texts became public, Carlson said in an interview with WABC that Trump had called him, "wounded about those texts." He old the station, "I love Trump, like as a person. I think Trump is funny and insightful." And after Trump was arraigned, Carlson interviewed him at length on his Fox News show.

Trump, upon hearing of Carlson's departure from Fox, said in an interview with Newsmax, "Well, I'm shocked. I'm surprised. He's a very good person and a very good man, and very talented as you know. And he had very high ratings."

"I think Tucker's been terrific," the former president said. "He's been – especially over the last year or so – he's been terrific to me."

Other messages showed Carlson and his fellow primetime hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham insulting Trump's lawyers, namely Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, about the unfounded claims that the election was stolen.

Carlson has been a fixture of cable news for decades, hosting shows on CNN, MSNBC and PBS before he joined Fox News. He also co-founded the conservative website The Daily Caller, which launched in 2010. Carlson stepped down from day-to-day oversight of the website after landing his show on Fox News and sold his stake in the outlet in 2020.

At Fox, he was the network's most popular host, with his primetime show drawing more than 3 million viewers nightly. But he also attracted controversy, including for demeaning comments about immigrants, people of color and women.

Recently, Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike criticized Carlson for attempting to downplay the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol after he aired selected snippets from 41,000 hours of security footage from the day of the riots. 

Carlson claimed surveillance video from the Capitol showed "mostly peaceful chaos" inside the building, and said most who breached the Capitol were "orderly and meek." He equated those in the Capitol during the attack to "sightseers."

His portrayal earned widespread pushback, including from GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who called the claims "bulls**t," and Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who said it's "just a lie" to put the Jan. 6 attack in the same category as a protest.

Carlson has also been named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by the former head of booking and senior producer for his show, Abby Grossberg, who alleged she endured a misogynistic and hostile environment while working on "Tucker Carlson Tonight." Grossberg previously worked for CBS News from 2011 to 2014 and CBS News Radio from 2005 to 2007. 

A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement that the network has "engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review."

"Her allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless and we will continue to vigorously defend Fox against her unmeritorious legal claims which are riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees," the spokesperson said.

Grossberg said in a statement that Carlson's departure from Fox News is a win for cable news viewers.

"This is a step towards accountability for the election lies and baseless conspiracy theories spread by Fox News, something I witnessed firsthand at the network, as well as for the abuse and harassment I endured while Head of Booking and Senior Producer for Tucker Carlson Tonight," she said.

Tanvir Rahman, one of Grossberg's attorneys, said Carlson and his subordinates, also named in the lawsuit, will be deposed under oath "in the very near term." Gerry Filippatos, Grossberg's lead attorney, called the news regarding Carlson a "partial vindication" for her.

"It tells us that — notwithstanding Fox News's public posturing — it knows that its participation in perpetrating the Big Lie that turned into the Big Grift was wrong as regards it's own audience and the American people at large," Filippatos said. "It also indicates an unexpected, but welcome, expression of contrition towards Ms. Grossberg that we welcome and put in the category of 'institutional change' that we require to move us closer towards an amicable resolution of Ms. Grossberg's lawsuits. We have duly noted that movement and thank Fox News for it."

Carlson's departure from Fox was announced just before longtime CNN host Don Lemon announced he'd been fired by the network after 17 years.

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