Fox News staff bewildered after being blindsided by Tucker Carlson departure: report
Many people within Fox News were reportedly shocked on Monday to learn that firebrand Tucker Carlson, the host of Fox News' most popular show, had left the conservative network.
According to The Washington Post, Carlson’s colleagues at Fox News were “stunned” by the news.
“We’re just learning of this like everyone else, total surprise on my end," one staffer told the publication.
The chairman of Fox Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, personally made the decision to fire Carlson, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
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“This is major,” an on-air Fox News personality told The Washington Post. “It sends a message that even the guy with the highest ratings of all, by a long shot, doesn’t get to survive this disaster.”
Carlson was the best-known personality on Fox's presenting roster, hosting a prime-time evening show that resonated with the broadcaster's substantial number of right-wing viewers.
A key figure in Republican politics, he often interviewed Donald Trump and has been widely criticized for his alleged lack of journalistic rigor and -- to his critics -- his stream of disinformation and racist and hate-filled rhetoric.
"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," the network said in a statement, giving no reason for his departure.
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The 53-year-old Carlson, who joined Fox in 2009, provided no immediate reaction.
Railing against everything from immigration policies to gun controls, "Tucker Carlson Tonight" pilloried liberal trends in modern America, appealing to viewers' outrage and propelling the show to the heights of cable television.
The $787.5-million defamation settlement last week meant that neither Murdoch nor hosts such as Carlson would have to testify in what was expected to be an explosive trial.
But internal Fox News communications released ahead of the scheduled trial had suggested senior figures at the network were prepared to spread falsehoods about the election for fear of losing viewers to rivals.
In the messages, Carlson also said he couldn't wait until he could "ignore Trump most nights," adding: "I hate him passionately."
But Carlson's relationship with Trump appears to still be close, with the former president sitting for a friendly hour-long interview on the show on April 11 after being arraigned on criminal charges in New York.
With additional reporting by AFP