(NewsNation) — As Fox News begins to plan a future without host Tucker Carlson, former longtime host Bill O’Reilly believes one thing is certain: Carlson’s departure is going to be bad for the network.
“There’s nothing good about this,” for Fox, O’Reilly said Monday on NewsNation’s “CUOMO.”
Carlson is out at Fox News after the company said Monday it had agreed to “part ways” with the anchor whose program drew on average more than 3 million viewers every night.
O’Reilly, in an exclusive interview with NewsNation, said Carlson and his staff were stunned to learn of the news Monday morning.
“(Monday), as every day in the TV news business, the producers of the Tucker Carlson program and all other news shows were having their morning meeting, laying out what was going to be on (Monday night), and in the middle of that meeting they got word that their host was not coming to work. Ever again,” O’Reilly said.
Fox News did not give specifics on the departure.
“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 said in a statement.
Carlson’s departure comes after Fox settled a $787.5 million defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems. Another election technology company, Smartmatic, is also suing the company for defamation and seeks more than $250 million in damages.
Carlson is also named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former producer alleging a hostile workplace.
O’Reilly posits the string of lawsuits played a role in his departure.
“(The thinking from executives) was get out ahead of these lawsuits because we’re going to lose them, and we’re going to get hammered, and it’s never going to stop, so we’ll start the purge,” he said.
O’Reilly spent more than a decade at Fox News and consistently held the top spot as the network’s highest-rated show. He was forced out in 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment.
Carlson was tapped to take over O’Reilly’s spot in the 8 p.m. ET timeslot, which saw a slight decline in ratings after O’Reilly left. Carlson averaged 2.9 million viewers in the first three months of 2018, behind O’Reilly’s average of 3.3 million in final month of his show, The Hill reported at the time.
Carlson’s show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” would later go on to be the most watched in cable news in 2021. It finished second behind Fox News’ “The Five” in 2022.
Amid a broader dip in cable news viewership, O’Reilly suggests Carlson’s departure will have a major impact on the network.
“This is bad for Fox News,” O’Reilly said. “You have a slide in television ratings including Fox the last six months. That slide will now be on steroids when the 8 o’clock hour collapses on Fox, which it will, because Tucker Carlson was driving that train.”