One of the highest paid and most-watched cable TV hosts in America has been fired by Rupert Murdoch in a drama worthy of Succession.
Tucker Carlson, who earned upwards of $20 million annually for his primetime work on Fox News, is one of most controversial Republican political pundits in the US.
He divided opinion – being loved by conservative voters in middle America and drawing fierce criticism from liberals – with his polemics on everything from the 2020 election to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Murdoch ousted the 53-year-old from his show Tucker Carlson Tonight just days after the network spent $787.5 million settling a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion – the firm behind the systems that voters had used in the last presidential election.
While insiders say the lawsuit was pivotal to his dismissal, Murdoch is understood to have been concerned by Carlson’s public embrace of the idea that the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress was instigated by the government.
Analysts also suggest his continued use of the word ‘c**t’ may have played a role in his sacking from the network.
Carlson was not told why he was being fired when he was called on Monday by Fox CEO Suzanne Scott, who reportedly just told him the decision was made ‘from above’. But insiders claim Lachlan Murdoch issued the ruling on Friday night.
He was ousted in part because network executives were angry at his bitter criticism of them following the 2020 presidential election, according to The Wall Street Journal – which, like Fox, is owned by Murdoch.
After the fraught election, which Joe Biden won narrowly, incumbent President Donald Trump notoriously aired false claims that the vote had been stolen. And Carlson was left furious after Fox called the election for Biden.
Executives are said to have been angry at the ‘disparaging and derogatory remarks’ he made about colleagues, which included a plea to get White House reporter Jacqui Heinrich fired for fact-checking Trump and calling bosses ‘incompetent liberals.’
Messages revealed as part of Dominion’s defamation suit showed how Carlson called Fox executives ‘f*****s’, saying they were ‘destroying our credibility’ by calling the election.
He was not the only Fox figure angry at the decision to call the election, but he was among the most passionate.
Read More: Rupert Murdoch knifes his biggest cable TV host