From Firings to Lawsuits: What’s Going on at Fox News


Tucker Carlson spoke at the 2018 Student Action Summit. Fox News recently fired Carlson soon after settling a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems. Some suggest that the discovery of Carlson’s texts — texts that criticized conspiracy theories he openly promoted on his show — led to the settling of the lawsuit. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Fox News has been the subject of some major headlines recently — and this time, it isn’t because they’ve been spreading election disinformation or promoting conspiracy theories. Instead, it’s because they’ve settled a major defamation lawsuit and fired their highest-rated host; a host who privately criticized conspiracy theories he openly promoted on his show.

On Friday, April 21, Tucker Carlson hosted his last show on Fox. The decision came as a shock for loyal viewers, who know him as the purveyor of their news, as well as his critics, who disapprove of his extremist beliefs and propagation of misinformation — in both camps, people were stunned.

Fox did not address the reasons for Carlson’s departure, stating only, “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.” but that didn’t stop people from theorizing.

Oliver Darcy, a political analyst for CNN, explained, “Perhaps it was related to ex-producer Abby Grossberg’s lawsuit against the network, which alleged rampant sexism and anti-Semitic behavior behind the scenes at Carlson’s show.” He speculated that it had something to do with the Murdochs — the owners of Fox News — balancing the risk versus reward of keeping Carlson. If keeping Carlson might mean attracting more lawsuits, it might not be worth it.

It could also have something to do with the bombshell revelations at the Dominion hearings. Dominion Voting Systems recently sued Fox for defamation, claiming that they knowingly spread misinformation about the role voting machines played in the 2020 election. Over the course of the trial, it was revealed that Carlson didn’t believe the conspiracies he was promoting, texting that he “passionately” hates Donald Trump and thought that his presidency was a “disaster.”

Some, like Jim Rutenberg, Jeremy W. Peters, and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, suggest that the decision to settle the lawsuit came as a direct result of discovering Carlson’s texts.

As for the lawsuit itself, Fox Corp. (the parent company of Fox News) and Dominion reached a $787,500,000 settlement, about half of what Dominion originally asked for. 

Dominion CEO John Poulos told NPR reporters that “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage [and] nothing can ever make up for that,” but  “Throughout this process, we have sought accountability.”

For now, it seems that Fox is attempting to return to the status quo — but with a top-rated host fired and many future lawsuits on the horizon, achieving normalcy might be harder than expected.