Tucker Carlson’s controversial – and costly – tenure at Fox News is over. The network said in a short statement on Monday afternoon that Carlson would not be returning to host his 8 p.m. program, on which Carlson repeatedly entertained Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 presidential election.
The Murdoch-run media company last Friday settled a damaging defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, agreeing to pay the company $787.5 million to avoid a trial. Dominion sued Fox News for $1.6 billion, after the network’s hosts platformed wild conspiracy theories ginned up by Trump and his lawyers, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, about suitcases full of fake election ballots and Dominion voting machines switching votes from Trump to Biden.
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Email and text exchanges among Fox News Media hosts, producers and executives uncovered during the discovery process revealed the hypocrisy of Carlson and his fellow opinion hosts, including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, who privately revealed deep skepticism about the claims even as they carried Trump’s water on their programs.
In one deposition, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox Crop., admitted that several anchors including Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, who was fired in February 2021, endorsed groundless conspiracy theories ginned up by Trump and his cabal of lawyers.
“Some of our commentators were endorsing it,” said Murdoch referring to the false claims. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight.”
Two days before the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, Carlson expressed deep antipathy for Trump in private exchanges with Fox News colleagues.
“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” Carlson wrote on Jan 4, 2021. “I truly can’t wait. I hate him passionately. I blew up at [former Trump administration official] Peter Navarro today in frustration. I actually like Peter. But I can’t handle much more of this.”
And yet, Fox News has continued to be a friendly outlet for Trump, who late last year announced his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. In the last several weeks, Trump has appeared for interviews with Carlson, Hannity and Mark Levin.
Fox News is facing additional lawsuits stemming from its commentary about the 2020 election. London-based voting technology company Smartmatic also is suing the company for defamation, asking for $2.7 billion in damages. Last February, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled that the case against Fox News, Bartiromo, Giuliani and Dobbs can go forward.
Former Fox News producer Abby Grossberg, who worked with Carlson and Bartiromo, is also suing, claiming she was coerced into giving false testimony in the Dominion case and that the Fox News legal team failed to search her phone in defiance of a court order during the discovery process.
And a Fox Corp. shareholder is suing Rupert Murdoch, his son Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox, and several other board members, for what the suit characterizes as a failure to stanch the stream of wild conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, leading to costly lawsuits and damaging the network’s credibility. The suit, brought by Robert Schwarz, seeks undisclosed damages and corporate reforms.
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