Fox News said Monday it is parting ways with firebrand anchor Tucker Carlson, the network’s most popular prime-time host and a leading voice in the modern conservative movement.
The network announced the stunning news days after it agreed to pay nearly $800 million to Dominion Voting Systems to avert a high-stakes defamation trial that had cast a shadow over the future of the network.
“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” the company said in a short news release. “Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st.”
Fox News did not specify why Carlson is leaving the network, and a spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email from NBC News requesting more information on the reason for his abrupt exit.
The network’s statement did not include any comment from Carlson.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a cornerstone of the Fox News programming lineup since 2016, was one of the most-watched shows on American cable news, outpacing rivals at CNN and MSNBC.
Carlson established himself as one of the most influential figures in a conservative political coalition reshaped by former President Donald Trump. He regularly drew controversy for incendiary statements about race, LGBTQ rights and other topics.
He also attracted intense scrutiny for spreading political misinformation, fostering conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 presidential election and minimizing the severity of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In the lead-up to the Dominion trial, Carlson’s internal communications were released and showed him criticizing Trump and acknowledging that claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election were baseless.
“I hate him passionately,” Carlson said in a text message to an unidentified person on Jan. 4, 2021, according to exhibits unsealed before the Dominion trial was set to begin.
But the television personality later backtracked and recently devoted a full episode of his show to an interview with Trump, who is once again seeking the Republican nomination for president.
The stock price of Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News, dropped sharply after Carlson’s departure became public, dipping more than 4%. (NBC)