Cable news anchors Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon abruptly leave their networks

Carla Paz, Staff Writer

On April 24, two of cable news’ most notorious anchors, Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon, were abruptly fired from their positions at Fox News and CNN, respectively. Carlson and Lemon are both known for their pasts of problematic behavior on-air and behind closed doors. Before Carlson’s firing, Fox News settled a $787.5 million lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for spreading conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Lemon faced controversy after his misogynistic comments made on-air towards Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. At the time of their firings, both claimed to be unaware of their terminations before it was announced to the public.

In 2021, voting systems company Dominion sued Fox News for $1.6 billion for defamation. On Carlson’s show, he had segments where he made baseless claims that Dominion committed election fraud to have President Joe Biden elected during the 2020 elections and that the company had ties to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The pre-trials did not go in Fox’s favor, with Dominion conducting further deposition and subpoenaing more evidence. The media conglomerate narrowly avoided the trial by settling with Dominion for $787.5 million. 

Fox News did not apologize for its false claims, only saying, “This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.” Dominion’s response to the settlement was “money is accountability” but still called out Fox for not apologizing.

Fox News was also facing other impending legal battles after former senior booking producer Abby Grossberg filed two lawsuits against Fox News with a focus on Carlson. Grossberg alleges that she faced sexism and anti-semitism and claims Fox pressured her to give false statements during the Dominion suit. She was faced with anti-semitic gestures after she found a Christmas tree in the office labeled “Hannukah Bush,” which her colleagues did not find offensive. 

Regarding sexism, the team made inappropriate jokes about former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in a bikini, which she claims that Fox “coerced, intimidated, and misinformed” her about the Dominion lawsuit before a September hearing. When she went to supervisors about her treatment, her supervisors allegedly said, “We’re just following Tucker’s tone. That’s Tucker’s tone.” After she was fired from her position because of the lawsuit, Carlson claims never to have met her.

A week after the Dominion settlement, Carlson’s termination announcement was stated as effective immediately. It shocked many people on both sides of the political spectrum due to Carlson’s popularity on the channel. On average, Carlson amounted to 3.2 million viewers per night, making him one of the most popular anchors on television. During his last show, there was no indication that it would be his last show. His send-off was the same as always, telling his viewers to have a good weekend and that he would return on Monday. 

Fox News was also promoting Carlson’s interview with presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. In a statement, Fox News said, “We thank [Carlson] for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.” On Wednesday, Carlson broke his silence through a video on Twitter, where he criticized political parties for not talking about “undeniably big topics” such as civil liberties and changing demographics.

On the same day, CNN news anchor Lemon was fired after months of controversy over misogyny. On air, Lemon made misogynistic comments about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, in which he says she is not in her “prime” because she is over 50. He stated, “A woman is considered to be in her prime—in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.” The comments were quickly criticized and called out by his two female co-hosts, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, to which he responded, “I’m just saying what the facts are—Google it.”

His comments garnered widespread criticism and were even referenced by Michelle Yeoh during her Oscars speech in which she said, “Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you’re ever past your prime.” Lemon later apologized for his “inartful and irrelevant” comments and partook in mandatory workplace training. 

More allegations of misogyny and misconduct came out after Variety released a report about his off-air behavior. In 2008, he was the co-host of the “Live From” show, where he reportedly had many misogynistic outbursts against his co-host Kyra Phillips. After Phillips got to cover Iraq, Lemon ripped up notes and photos at their shared desk and texted her from an unknown number, “Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it.” 

In the same year, Lemon allegedly said that his colleague Soledad O’Brien was “not black” after she got to host the coveted “Black in America” series. On air, he made controversial comments about the black community after he said, “Walking around with your ass and your underwear showing is not OK. In fact, it comes from prison when they remove belts from the prisoner so they can’t make a weapon. And then, it evolved into which role a prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex. The one with the really low pants is a submissive one. You get my point.”

He also made comments about a Bill Cosby accuser that she should have “bit the comedian’s dick.” In response to the article, Lemon’s representative stated, “The story, which is riddled with patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence, is entirely based on unsourced, unsubstantiated, 15-year-old anonymous gossip.”

In CNN’s statement, they thanked Don Lemon for his 17 years of contribution to the company, “wish[ed] him well” in his next endeavors and said that his morning show “CNN This Morning” will continue to air with his co-hosts. 

According to Lemon, he was fired on Monday with no prior heads-up from management. He stated on Twitter, “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 there are some larger issues at play.” However, CNN fired back by saying that Lemon’s statements were “inaccurate” and that they “offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.” In response to his firing, Nikki Haley said, “Who’s in his prime now?” during a campaign rally. Currently, there is no word on what Lemon will do next.