Why did Tucker Carlson leave Fox News? Here's what we know.

A lawsuit against the network stemming from Dominion Voting Systems' defamation case appears to have been a central factor in the split.

Fox personality Tucker Carlson
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Tucker Carlson's six-year run as the host of his own primetime show at Fox News is over, the network announced Monday, ending a chapter made more tenuous by former President Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 election.

While the exact reason for the split between Fox News and its highest-rated host remains unclear, a lawsuit against the network stemming from Dominion Voting Systems' defamation case appears to have been a central factor.

Here's a look back at some of the noteworthy events that preceded Monday's announcement.

The text messages

Tucker Carlson, left, and former President Donald Trump
Carlson and former President Donald Trump at a golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J., July 31, 2022. (Seth Wenig,/AP)

On Nov. 5, 2020, just two days after the presidential election, Carlson seemed to grasp the dilemma he and his network were facing. Having spent years building up Donald Trump to viewers, Joe Biden had defeated Trump and there was no credible evidence to show otherwise.

“He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong,” Carlson wrote about Trump on Nov. 5 in one of many startling text messages obtained by Dominion Voting Systems as part of its defamation lawsuit against Fox News.

On Nov. 17, Carlson vented about a lawyer and frequent Fox News guest who had pushed the false conspiracy theory that voter fraud had cost Trump victory. "Sidney Powell is lying. F***ing bitch," he wrote.

A day later, in a message to Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Carlson wrote, “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.”

Following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, Carlson took aim at Trump himself.

“We are very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” he wrote in one exchange. “I truly can’t wait.”

“I hate him passionately,” Carlson added.

His text messages, along with those of Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, were used as evidence in the Dominion suit to show that the network was knowingly spreading false information.

‘I have the evidence’

MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell

Despite ranting in private against Trump and Powell and questioning the case for widespread voter fraud, on Jan. 26, 2021, Carlson invited My Pillow CEO and outspoken Trump supporter Mike Lindell on his program to suggest there was evidence that the election was rigged against the former president. Dominion highlighted a portion of that interview in their case against Fox News that proceeded as follows:

“Every outlet in the country, they go, ‘Mike Lindell, there’s no evidence, and he’s making fraudulent statements.’ No. I have the evidence. I dare people to put it on. I dare Dominion to sue me because then it will get out faster. So, this is — you know, they don’t — they don’t want to talk about it,” Lindell said.

“No, they don’t,” Carlson responded.

Dominion files suit

In March 2021, Dominion filed suit against Fox News, singling out statements made on air by hosts Carlson, Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo.

‘Funny and insightful‘

On March 21, 2023, Carlson was interviewed on WABC radio about the text messages he had sent about Trump and the bogus claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

“Oh, let’s see. I spent four years defending his policies and I, I’m going to defend them again tonight,” Carlson said. “And actually, and I’m pretty straightforward, I’m, um, I love Trump. Like, as a person, I think Trump is funny and insightful.”

The same day Carlson was interviewed, one of his former producers, Abby Grossberg, filed two lawsuits against Fox News, alleging that the network had coached and pressured her prior to her testimony in the Dominion lawsuit and that Carlson's show promoted an culture of sexism and antisemitism.

Dominion settlement reached

Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos, second from left
Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos, second from left, with his legal team in Wilmington, Del., April 18. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After a jury in the Dominion lawsuit had been selected, Fox News, which had vowed a robust defense in court, backed down and, on April 18, 2023, agreed to a $787 million settlement. While that enormous sum was one of the largest settlements in a civil case in U.S. history, Carlson and some other Fox News hosts who had been singled out in the lawsuit did not mention deal on their programs.

All is forgiven?

On April 11, 2023, Carlson seemed to try to bury the hatchet with Trump, inviting him on his program for an interview that, by most accounts, was not exactly hard-hitting. Trump was largely given free rein to speak about whatever he wanted, with Carlson signaling his agreement with the former president’s observations.

In promoting the interview, the first since Trump was arraigned on charges stemming from alleged hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, Carlson promised his viewers that they would like what they'd see.

“For a man who is caricatured as an extremist,” Carlson said of Trump, “we think you’ll find what he has to say moderate, sensible and wise.”

One person who was not impressed was Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who complained that Trump and the network were stuck in the past.

Final show

MAGA supporters watch Tucker Carlson
MAGA supporters watch Carlson on the night of the Senate election in Georgia, May 24, 2022. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

“What a great way to the end the week,” Carlson said on Friday, April 21, of what would turn out to be his final show. Earlier in the program, Carlson, who never did get around to mentioning the Dominion settlement, instead focused on subjects like Hunter Biden and his laptop, the fentanyl crisis, immigration and the Pentagon leak of U.S. intelligence findings. He also railed against law enforcement officials in Nashville for not making public a manifesto left behind by a mass shooter.

Carlson rounded out the program by eating pizza with with a Pennsylvania delivery driver who had aided police in the arrest of a man suspected of stealing a car.

“That’s it for us for the week, we’ll be back. ... We’ll be back on Monday — in the meantime have the best weekend with the ones you love. See you then!”