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Fox Parts Ways With Extremist Host Tucker Carlson

Fox News announced in a press release Monday that they had parted ways with primetime host Tucker Carlson, effective immediately.

The announcement said that “Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday, April 21st,” meaning that the host would not have the opportunity to say farewell to his “Tucker Carlson Tonight” audience, which was the largest in cable news.

Whether or not Fox News bosses intended it, in firing Carlson they deplatformed “the main conduit for the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory into the Republican Party,” according to Madeline Peltz, Media Matters for America (MMFA) deputy director of rapid response, who spoke to Hatewatch by telephone on Monday afternoon.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the instruction to terminate Carlson had come directly from Rupert Murdoch, CEO and chairman of News Corp, which owns Fox News.

The newspaper also reported that the dismissal was related to two concerns: a lawsuit filed by former Fox employee Abby Grossberg, which alleges that she faced sexism and a hostile work environment; and Carlson’s coverage of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which Carlson repeatedly alleged had been deliberately provoked by federal government agents.

Carlson’s false assertions that a rally attendee, Ray Epps, was a government provocateur were debunked in a segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday night. The program included an in-depth interview with Epps, who said that he had to sell his house and go into hiding due to death threats from supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Peltz said that she did not know why Carlson was fired, but that “history suggests that this kind of dismissal at Fox News has often been related to personal behavior” arising from “the culture of sexual harassment that started under founding CEO, Roger Ailes.”

Former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly was fired in 2017 in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

The termination appeared to catch Carlson and the network by surprise. Reportedly, Carlson was not informed until Monday morning, the day of his dismissal, that the show would no longer air. At the end of Friday night’s show, he told his viewers, “We'll be back on Monday.” Also on Monday morning, the network had been promoting a yet-to-be-aired interview with right-wing entrepreneur and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

Semafor reported that Carlson's executive producer, Justin Wells, had also parted ways with Fox News. Wells was named along with Carlson and other members of his production team in Grossberg's civil complaint as contributing to the alleged "misogynistic environment that permeates Fox News."

Hatewatch emailed a Fox News media spokesperson for comment but received no response.

Since Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential race, Carlson had been one of several Fox hosts who promoted false narratives of a stolen election.

He was also one of several hosts who accused Dominion Voting Systems, a manufacturer of voting machines, of colluding in election-rigging. Those claims were the subject of a lawsuit from Dominion that Fox News settled out of court for a reported $787.5 million last week.

Carlson began hosting “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News on Nov. 14, 2016, a week after the election of Donald Trump. He immediately began promoting views that were even more extreme than those of other Fox commentators, especially on race and immigration.

Along with false election narratives, Carlson was influential in bringing narratives about a false “ great replacement ” conspiracy to replace white Americans and Europeans with non-white immigrants from the Global South.

This started almost as soon as he took over the show: In April 2017, he referred to immigration to Europe as an “invasion,” and in December 2017, he told viewers that Democrats wanted to use a “flood of illegals” to bring about “demographic replacement.”

Carlson repeatedly offered a platform to white nationalists including Scott Greer, former Daily Caller editor and contributor to the “alt-right” Radix Journal; former Rep. Steve King; and Andrew Torba, the founder of extremist-friendly social media platform Gab.

He also voiced fringe racial grievances in an apparent effort to give them greater cultural salience. In July 2017, he used the slur “gypsies” in reference to Roma asylum seekers in Pennsylvania and said they had “little regard for either the law or public decency.”

In August 2018, Carlson presented a segment on land reform in South Africa, adopting the South African far right’s characterization of the process as “race-based land seizures." After the Tucker segment, then-President Trump tweeted about the issue.

Fox News did not nominate a permanent successor to Carlson, saying Monday that his chair would be filled by “rotating Fox News personalities until a new host is named.”

Hatewatch attempted to contact Carlson for comment via email, but there was no immediate response.

Photo credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

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