Fox News host Tucker Carlson and CNN host Don Lemon both abruptly exited their cable outlets on Monday following a series of controversies, marking a seismic shift in the media landscape.
Just hours before Fox News announced Carlson’s departure in a statement, the network was still promoting his primetime show, indicating just how sudden the separation was.
“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” Fox News said in a statement. “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”
Carlson’s last program was Friday. “Fox News Tonight” will air at 8 p.m. EST — previously the slot for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” — starting Monday as an “interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named.”
Lemon was fiery in his response to being ousted, stating on Twitter that he was “stunned” that he had been terminated by the network.
“At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network. It is clear that there are some larger issues at play,” he wrote.
Though, CNN, in a tweet said Lemon’s statement is “inaccurate” and that he was “offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
The exits come ahead of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, slated for Saturday. The annual event, attended for decades by presidents from both parties, celebrates the First Amendment and honors journalists. The headliner usually takes the stage to deliver the traditional WHCA dinner roast. This year’s headliner, Roy Wood Jr., said he already threw out his script following the exits of Lemon and Carlson.
Both anchors have faced their fair share of controversy in recent months leading up to their departures on Monday.
Lemon, who had worked at CNN for 17 years, said on-air in February that presidential hopeful Nikki Haley “isn’t in her prime” and that a woman is “in her prime in her 20s, 30s, 40s.” He later apologized for the comments on Twitter and didn’t appear on “CNN This Morning” the next day.
Earlier this month, Variety published a report claiming that Lemon made other offensive comments about women on air in the past and alleged inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues at CNN.
News of Carlson’s departure came the week after Fox News settled Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit for $787.5 million. Carlson, along with hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, privately mocked regular guests such as Donald Trump’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, while continuing to promote conspiracy theories to their audience.
Last month, the White House joined in widespread condemnation of Carlson, singling him out for his misleading portrayal of the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. The revelations were made public as part of the lawsuit by Dominion.
Former “Tucker Carlson Tonight” producer Abby Grossberg is also suing the network after stating that she was unlawfully fired as an act of retaliation.
Carlson first joined Fox News as a contributor in 2009, and in 2017, Carlson took over the network’s 8 p.m. hour after Bill O’Reilly was forced out. Carlson was one of the most-watched hosts on the cable news network, with an average audience of 3.2 million viewers.
On Monday morning, Fox News had still been previewing Carlson’s show, teasing an interview with presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy that would air Monday night.
Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner addressed Tucker Carlson’s departure Monday by stating, “We have some news from within our Fox family. Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have mutually agreed to part ways.”
Politicians as well as former and current TV hosts were quick to react to the news of the exits.
Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who left the network in 2017, said the news was “Good for Tucker.”
“Trust me, he doesn’t need them,” Kelly said in a tweet.
Fox host Sean Hannity posted to Twitter, “*LATER LEMON!*” but did not address Carlson’s departure.
“Good News: “The dumbest man on television,’ Don Lemon, has finally been fired from Fake News CNN,” former President Donald Trump said on Truth Social. “My only question is, WHAT TOOK THEM SO LONG?” Trump posted on Truth Social.
And in a tweet, Russian-backed English-language news outlet RT News appeared to offer Carlson a job.
“Hey @TuckerCarlson, you can always question more with @RT_com,” RT News wrote.