Fox News said Monday that it was ending its relationship with Tucker Carlson, its most popular prime time host and one of the most influential voices on the American right.
Mr. Carlson’s departure stunned people inside Fox News and the larger conservative media world, where he has had power like few others to elevate candidates and controversies on his 8 p.m. show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” The program became a must-watch for conservatives during the presidency of Donald J. Trump, an ideological ally and occasional confidante of Mr. Carlson’s. Both men helped push hard-right positions on issues like immigration reform and race relations into the Republican mainstream, and both relished ways to antagonize their political opponents with audacious and often untrue attacks.
In recent weeks, however, it was tumult unfolding off the air that consumed Mr. Carlson and his program. He was set to be a star witness in the trial over Dominion Voting Systems’ billion-dollar defamation lawsuit against Fox News until the network last week abruptly settled for $787.5 million.
Fox offered a terse statement of gratitude in making the announcement late Monday morning. “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 statement said.
Mr. Carlson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
His position at the network appeared to grow untenable quickly. Fox had been promoting an interview Mr. Carlson was set to do on Monday with Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican candidate for president in 2024.
His last program was on Friday, Fox said. Two people briefed on his departure said that Mr. Carlson was only informed on Monday morning that he was gone from the network.
The Fox News host Harris Faulkner said on air Monday that starting that evening, an interim show, “Fox News Tonight,” would fill the 8 p.m. hour “with rotating Fox News personalities until a new host is named.”
It wasn’t just Mr. Carlson’s words on the air that got him in trouble. His private messages with producers — in which they denigrated Mr. Trump and his legal advisers after the 2020 election in vulgar and sexist terms — were disclosed as part of the defamation lawsuit against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems. In one exchange with staff, Mr. Carlson texted about Mr. Trump: “I hate him passionately.” In another, he labeled Mr. Trump — whom he often praised on his show — “a demonic force, a destroyer.”
And late last month, one of his former producers filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming that Mr. Carlson ran a toxic workplace.
His departure brings to an end a rapid and controversial rise at the conservative news and opinion channel, where Mr. Carlson was promoted to the prime-time lineup in late 2016 and quickly emerged as one of the major media stars of the Trump era.
More than any other Fox host, Mr. Carlson drew in viewers by harnessing the cultural anxieties and racial grievances of the former president’s political base. He warned his viewers that they were under assault from liberal elites and unchecked immigration, borrowing some of his central themes from the white nationalist and far-right web and polishing them up for a more mainstream audience.
When Fox launched a streaming network, Fox Nation, to draw more revenue from its most loyal fans, it was Mr. Carlson who became the new platform’s top personality, with a thrice-weekly talk show and periodic documentaries that doubled down on his themes of duplicitous elites and race-obsessed liberals.
At his height within Fox, he defied the network’s senior leadership while cultivating the impression among colleagues that he was cozy with the Murdoch family, particularly Fox chief Lachlan Murdoch. Though in his sworn deposition as part of the Dominion suit, Mr. Carlson said the two men were not especially close. Asked how often he communicated with Lachlan Murdoch, Mr. Carlson replied, “Rarely.” He added, “It’s not on a weekly basis or even a monthly basis.”
He also wielded his stature to bully and pressure more junior colleagues on the news side when they challenged the show’s powerful opinion hosts or reported — accurately — on the 2020 election results.
In the recent lawsuit filed by one of his former Fox producers, Abby Grossberg, she accuses Mr. Carlson of presiding over a misogynistic and discriminatory workplace culture. Ms. Grossberg said in the lawsuit, which was filed in March, that on her first day working for Mr. Carlson, she discovered the work space was decorated with large pictures of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing a plunging swimsuit.
Ms. Grossberg said Mr. Carlson’s staff frequently used vulgar terms for women, and that she was once called into the top producer’s office to be asked whether Maria Bartiromo, a Fox Business host for whom she previously worked, was having a sexual relationship with the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.
Ms. Grossberg also claimed that after she was coerced by Fox’s lawyers into providing a misleading deposition in the Dominion case and defending an offensive text from Mr. Carlson, his producers emailed the rest of the staff in recognition of “Abby Day” and suggested ordering a staff lunch to celebrate.
Fox has disputed Ms. Grossberg’s claims. She was fired after filing the suit. A spokeswoman said in a recent statement: “We will continue to vigorously defend Fox against Ms. Grossberg’s unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against Fox and our employees.”
Justin Wells, the senior executive producer of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” is also no longer employed by Fox News, according to two people with knowledge of the decision inside the network. Mr. Wells had worked closely alongside Mr. Carlson since his prime-time show began in 2016.
In recent years, Mr. Carlson, 53, has grown his platform and reach inside the network, and left people to believe that he was untouchable in a sense. He signed a new deal with Fox News in 2021, expanding into podcasts and a series called “Tucker Carlson Originals” for the streaming service Fox Nation.
In 2022, he gave an interview with the upstart media outlet Semafor in which he boasted how he operated with virtual autonomy at Fox. “I don’t clear anything with anybody. I file my script late,” Mr. Carlson said.
He is not the first star Fox personality to leave the network after developing a huge following — and leaving fans with the impression that they were simply too big to fail. In 2011, the network pushed out Glenn Beck, the Tea Party megastar whose anti-Obama rants made his show one of the most popular in Fox News history. Two years later, Fox parted ways with Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor.
Fox executives said at the time that one factor more than anything else led to the departures: No one person is bigger than the network.
Nicholas Confessore contributed reporting.