Longtime Fox News host Sean Hannity broke his silence on Tucker Carlson’s firing, saying it was “very hard” to learn about his friend’s dismissal via news reports and that he did not have any advance knowledge it was coming.
Speaking on his radio show, Hannity expressed shock that Carlson, who drew a nightly audience of three million viewers, was suddenly dismissed without an explanation by the network.
“It’s very hard,” Hannity said. “My phone has been blowing up. The hard part for me is I don’t have a clue … I have no idea. Was it Tucker’s decision? Was it Fox’s? Was it a mutual agreement that they had? I don’t know. I guess people think that because I’ve been there the longest I’d have some knowledge or understanding of what’s going on, but… I just don’t.”
Since Carlson’s departure, Fox has struggled to maintain its audience during the primetime 8 p.m. slot where various hosts have filled in until the network can find a permanent replacement. In the days following his absence, Fox reported seeing nearly 1.5 million viewers tune out. Hannity, who regularly draws about 2.5 million viewers, saw a precipitous drop of 800,000 in two days. Similarly, host Jesse Waters lost nearly 600,000 viewers.
Speculation has built that some of Carlson’s opinions put him at odds with Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, including the latter’s support for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy and his criticism of Dominion Voting Systems which recently settled with Fox for a record $787 billion over allegations of defamation by Carlson and others at the network.
As Fox struggles to get out from other lawsuits, including by voting software company Smartmatic and one brought by a former employee of Carlson, some have suggested the Murdoch family may be planning to sell its media empire to avoid further embarrassment. Already, some shareholders in Fox have sued Murdoch and other members of the board accusing them of failing to rein in Carlson from making provocative — and potentially liable — statements to his audience.