In a shocking and unexpected development on Monday morning, it was announced that top-rated cable news primetime host Tucker Carlson was no longer employed by the Fox News Channel.
Widespread speculation immediately ensued with regard to Carlson's sudden departure, including who would eventually be his replacement at the network, the Washington Examiner reported.
"Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade was the first to be tapped to fill in as host in the 8 pm ET primetime slot that Carlson had filled since 2017, though it is unclear if Kilmeade, who in addition to his morning show duties and an afternoon radio show also hosts a show on Saturday evenings called "One Nation with Brian Kilmeade."
The Examiner noted that the network had said there would be a rotation of guest hosts to temporarily fill Carlson's weeknight spot, and some of the names floated in that regard included Maria Bartiromo, Greg Gutfeld, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Jesse Watters.
Fox News announced on Monday that it and Carlson had "agreed to part ways" and that "We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor."
The announcement noted that "Fox News Tonight" would air during the 8 pm timeslot with "a rotation of various Fox News personalities" as hosts for the interim until a permanent new host and program could be named.
It was also noted that the Friday edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," which first launched in 2016, was the final episode of that top-rated program.
Given the close proximity of Carlson's unexpected ouster from Fox News and the network's massive settlement of a lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million, there had been some speculation of a possible connection between those two events, but Axios reported that that wasn't the case.
Per an unnamed source described as "familiar with the situation," Carlson's firing -- which was said to have been decided on Friday by Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott -- was not a stipulation within the terms of the settlement agreement in the defamation lawsuit focused on alleged false claims by Fox News personalities following the 2020 election.
The outlet also noted that when asked if Carlson being fired was part of the agreement, a spokesperson for Dominion replied, "Nothing from us on that right now."
The Hill reported that in addition to the Dominion settlement agreement with Fox News, there were a number of other speculative reasons for Carlson's sudden firing, some more conspiratorial than others, including that the Dominion case had rendered Carlson too costly for the network to keep and perhaps had resulted in a loss of viewers after private messages were revealed that showed Carlson, among others at the network, saying one thing on-air while saying completely different things behind the scenes.
Another plausible reason is that Carlson was directly named in a separate lawsuit filed recently by a former network employee, Abby Grossberg, who alleged a "misogynistic environment" on Carlson's program that "subjugates women based on vile sexist stereotypes, typecasts religious minorities and belittles their traditions, and demonstrates little to no regard for those suffering from mental illness."
Now, aside from why he was fired and who might ultimately replace him, CBS News reported that one of the biggest unanswered questions is where Carlson will go from here and whether his legion of loyal viewers -- he averaged around 3 million every night -- would similarly ditch Fox News and follow their favorite outspoken host.
The broadcast network noted that conservative outlets like One America News Network and TheBlaze immediately offered Carlson a job, as did the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. Newsmax and video-sharing platform Rumble also issued comments regarding Carlson's departure from Fox News but didn't publicly invite him to join.