Tucker Carlson was shocked by the decision to fire him and has still not been told why, according to reports – but his departure could be part of a plan to sell Fox News, sources told DailyMail.com.
The 53-year-old was negotiating the renewal of his Fox News contract through 2029, earning upwards of $20 million a year, and expected it to be renewed, Vanity Fair reported.
Carlson, who joined Fox in 2009 after stints at CNN, PBS and MSNBC, was not told why he was being fired when CEO Suzanne Scott called him on Monday morning.
Scott told him the decision was made ‘from above.’ The decision was made on Friday night by Lachlan Murdoch, according to multiple reports.
A Fox News source told DailyMail.com: ‘Tucker still hasn’t been given any indication of why he was taken off the air. His producer Justin Wells was fired too.
‘We believe Rupert wants to sell the company and it’s harder to find an institutional buyer with Tucker as the main star. Tucker gone makes it more of an appealing media company to buy.’
Tucker Carlson, 53, was fired by Fox News on Monday. He was not given a reason for his ouster, but was reportedly told it was a decision made ‘from above’
Rupert Murdoch, seen in November 2019, is considering selling Fox News, sources told DailyMail.com, and felt the network was more attractive to buyers without Carlson
Fox did not give any reason for the departure of their most-watched news anchor, saying on Monday: ‘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.’
One senior staffer who works closely with his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, told DailyMail.com they were all stunned at the news.
‘No one I know was told about it beforehand. We were blindsided,’ the employee said.
Some have speculated that Carlson’s role in the Dominion voting systems defamation case, which Fox settled last week at a cost of $787.5 million, was a factor.
Carlson’s text messages to his producer embarrassed the network, with the hugely influential conservative declaring he hated Donald Trump ‘passionately’, and describing him as ‘a demonic force, a destroyer’.
He singled out Trump’s attorney Sidney Powell for particular venom, referring to her on November 22, 2020 as a ‘c***’.
He confirmed her claims about Dominion’s vote-switching were nonsense, saying: ‘The software s*** is absurd.’
The same night, he said on his show: ‘We don’t know anything about the software that many say was rigged. We don’t know. We ought to find out.’
But Carlson was far from the most vocal proponent of claims the election was stolen.
The Wall Street Journal and media reporter Brian Stelter said that Carlson’s text messages criticizing senior leadership – revealed as part of the case – were more of a factor in his dismissal.
Many of the messages were redacted at the request of Fox attorneys, but have been seen by top Fox executives.
Carlson is seen on March 29 at a ‘Populism and the Right’ seminar at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington DC
Carlson became a household name through Tucker Carlson Tonight, which became Fox News’s flagship show. In 2022, it averaged about 3.3 million viewers per show
Those made public include Carlson telling a colleague the day after the election was called for Joe Biden: ‘Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience?’
In another, he said: ‘Those f****** are destroying our credibility.’
He later wrote: ‘A combination of incompetent liberals and top leadership with too much pride to back down is what’s happening.’
Another factor was said to be the number of separate suits filed against him.
Abby Grossberg, a former top booker for his show, has sued Carlson and Fox for a hostile workplace, sexual harassment and other alleged wrongs.
Producer Abby Grossberg filed a lawsuit against Fox that detailed specific claims about Carlson’s show
Grossberg tweeted that Carlson’s departure is ‘great for America’
She claimed she was ‘coerced, intimidated, and misinformed’ while preparing for her deposition in the $1.6 billion Dominion defamation case.
Grossberg added that she was discriminated against as a woman at Fox, ‘overworked, undervalued, denied opportunities for promotion’ and subjected to ‘vile sexist stereotypes.’
Grossberg told DailyMail.com that Carlson’s firing looked to her like an ‘admission’ of guilty by the network.
‘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 tweeted.
‘I think this is great for America! It’s a big win for viewers of cable news, not just those who watch Fox.’
Grossberg’s lead attorney, Gerry Filippatos, said Carlson’s exit ‘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.
‘Today is a partial vindication for Ms. Grossberg, who was a journalist before she joined Fox News, and is now again after she was fired in retaliation for speaking the truth about the unlawful treatment she suffered there as a woman and a ‘represented’ witness under oath.’
Her other attorney, Tanvir Rahman, also of the firm Filippatos PLLC, said that Grossberg still planned to have Carlson deposed in her Southern District of New York (SDNY) federal lawsuit against him and Fox.
‘Tucker Carlson’s departure from Fox News is, in part, an admission of the systemic lying, bullying, and conspiracy-mongering claimed by our client, former top producer, Abby Grossberg,’ Rahman said.
‘Mr. Carlson and his subordinates remain individual defendants in the S.D.N.Y. case and we look forward to taking their depositions under oath in the very near term.’
And a January 6 protestor, Ray Epps, has written a legal letter to Carlson demanding an on-air apology after Carlson claimed he was a FBI informant, sent to the Capitol to whip up the riot and discredit Donald Trump.
Carlson has declined to comment on his firing.
An interim roster of hosts will take over in his absence until a permanent replacement is chosen.
While liberals celebrated his departure, conservatives mourned his loss. Many of his die-hard viewers are now left wondering where to turn.
Shares in Fox Corp, the network’s parent company, fell by 5 percent after the announcement – wiping $500 million from its market value.
His departure also comes just four days after that of Dan Bongino, and several months after Fox ‘parted ways’ with former president Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara.
Carlson, pictured in 2003 after he joined CNN, was recognizable early in his career for wearing a bow tie. He dropped the neckwear in the 2000s after some hurled abuse at him for it in New York’s Penn Station
Among discovery submitted before the trial were text messages in which Carlson described his ‘passionate’ hatred of President Trump
In mourning: Tucker’s fans and friends vowed to ‘follow him wherever he goes’ after the news of his departure today
For decades, Carlson has seemed untouchable, with Fox defending him throughout a series of dramas.
Last week, his Thursday 8pm show attracted nearly 500,000 more viewers than Sean Hannity, Fox’s second most watched host, in the 9pm hour.
In 2010, he created the conservative news site The Daily Caller. He sold his stake in 2020, three years after being given his own Fox News show.
In December 2018, he told his viewers that immigrants make ‘our country poorer and dirtier and more divided.’
In March 2019, the liberal watchdog Media Matters published audio of Carlson calling into a radio show from 2006-11, making several demeaning comments about women and defending child rape, and making derogatory comments about foreigners.
‘Arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her,’ he said while defending a man who is in prison for facilitation of child rape.
In other clips, he said women need to ‘be quiet and do what they’re told’, and described women as ‘extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand’.
He declared that ‘Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys,’ adding that he has ‘zero sympathy for them or their culture,’ where people ‘don’t use toilet paper or forks.’
Carlson refused to apologize, saying the comments were made many years ago on a radio show.
‘Fox News is behind us,’ he said on the night the audio emerged.
‘They have been since the very first day. Toughness is a rare quality in a TV network and we are grateful for that.’
More recently, he angered many Republicans by airing heavily-edited clips of the January 6 riot, describing those who stormed the Capitol as tourists.
Steve Bannon, on his podcast show, said: ‘Tucker was the mainstay of the populist voice over at Fox.
‘The reason to watch Fox, you’ve got Maria (Bartiromo) in the morning, Jesse (Watters), he is getting there, but Tucker’s really the reason.
‘With this, I don’t know any reason to watch the Murdoch empire.’
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: ‘Tucker Carlson out at Fox News. OMG.’
While conservatives mourned him, liberals like those at The View celebrated the announcement gleefully.
Whoopi Goldberg announced the news, before Ana Navarro – one of the panel’s few Republican hosts – led the audience in a chant of ‘hey, hey, hey, goodbye!’