NEW YORK -- Prime-time host Tucker Carlson, whose stew of grievances and political theories about Russia and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot had grown to define the Fox News in recent years and influence GOP politics, left the network Monday.
Fox said that the network and Carlson had "agreed to part ways" but it offered no explanation for the move, saying that the last broadcast of "Tucker Carlson Tonight" aired last Friday.
The break comes amid a cascade of legal news for Fox and Carlson. A week ago, Fox agreed to pay more than $787 million to settle a lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems over the network's airing of false claims following the 2020 presidential election -- shortly before Carlson was expected to be called to testify.
CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday aired a report about a man caught up in a Jan. 6 conspiracy theory who said Carlson was "obsessed" with him, and whose lawyer has put Fox on notice of potential litigation. Carlson was also recently named in a lawsuit by a former Fox producer who said the show had a cruel and misogynistic workplace and that she had been pressured to give misleading testimony in the Dominion case.
Carlson worked as an editorial writer at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 1993-1995. Having also worked at both CNN and MSNBC earlier in his career, Carlson ditched his bow-tie look and quickly became Fox's most popular personality after replacing Bill O'Reilly in the network's prime-time lineup in 2017.
His populist tone about elites out to get average Americans rang true with Fox's predominantly conservative audience, even leading to talk about him becoming a political candidate himself one day.
He did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday.
"Tucker Carlson had become even bigger than Fox News," said Brian Stelter, who is writing an upcoming book about Fox, "Network of Lies." "His sudden ouster will have profound consequences for Fox News, for TV news and the Republican Party."
DON LEMON FIRED
CNN fired longtime host Don Lemon on Monday following his short and disastrous run as a morning show host, a little over two months after he apologized for on-air comments about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley being past her prime.
While CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht announced, after Lemon had co-hosted the show Monday, that they had "parted ways," Lemon characterized it as a firing and said it was a surprise to him.
"After 17 years at CNN I would have thought someone in management would have the decency to tell me directly," Lemon said. CNN said that Lemon was given the opportunity to meet with management but released a statement on Twitter instead.
CNN offered no public explanation for Lemon's dismissal. During a February discussion on "CNN This Morning" with co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins about the ages of politicians, he said that the 51-year-old Haley was not "in her prime." A woman, he said, was considered in her prime "in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s."
Harlow challenged Lemon, trying to clarify what he was referencing: "I think we need to qualify. Are you talking about prime for childbearing or are you talking about prime for being president?"
"Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just saying what the facts are," Lemon responded.
Lemon issued a statement the same day saying he regretted his "inartful and irrelevant" comments. He was subsequently absent from the show for three days, returning the following week with a tweeted apology but no mention of the episode on air.
Lemon used to host the prime-time "Don Lemon Tonight" but moved when the network launched "CNN This Morning" last November, just before the U.S. midterm elections, as one of the first major programming moves under Licht.
Information for this article was contributed by David Bauder, Ali Swenson, Rhonda Shafner and Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press.