Fox News star host Tucker Carlson is leaving the influential conservative TV network, it was announced Monday, in a surprise move days after the outlet reached a $787.5 million settlement over a damaging defamation case.
Carlson was the best-known personality among Fox’s presenting roster, hosting a popular prime-time evening show that drew a fiercely loyal audience among right-wing viewers.
A key figure in Republican politics, he often interviewed Donald Trump and has been widely criticized for his abrasive style, alleged lack of journalistic rigor and — to his critics — his stream of 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.
Carlson, 53, gave no immediate reaction to the statement.
Targeting foes including Democrats and immigrants, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” raged against liberal trends in modern America, appealing to viewers’ outrage and propelling the show to the heights of cable television.
The defamation settlement last week meant that neither Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch nor hosts such as Carlson would have to testify in what was expected to be an explosive trial.
But copious amounts of internal Fox News communications reported by US media suggested senior figures at the network were prepared to spread falsehoods about the election for fear of losing viewers to rivals.
In leaked communications, Carlson said he couldn’t wait until he could “ignore Trump most nights,” adding: “I hate him passionately.”