Fox News is cancelling its highest-rated show Lou Dobbs Tonight, which will air for the final time on Friday, according to reports.
Dobbs, 75, is the network’s staunchest supporter of Donald Trump and consistently pushed the former President’s claims of voter fraud on air, and assertions that he was won the 2020 election.
Trump on Friday praised Dobbs saying in a statement that the host ‘is and was great’.
‘Nobody loves America more than Lou,’ Trump added. ‘He had a large and loyal following that will be watching closely for his next move, and that following includes me.’
The cancelation comes a day after voting software company Smartmatic sued Fox News and three of its hosts – Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro – for defamation over their coverage of Trump’s election fraud claims.
The software company is looking for $2.7billion in the suit, claiming that Fox knew the election wasn’t rigged but spread the narrative of a stolen election which damaged its business.
Fox has stood by its coverage and said it will ‘defend this meritless lawsuit in court’.
Lou Dobbs Tonight will air for the final time on Friday night as Fox News is reported to be parting ways with the 75-year-old host (pictured) who is among its staunchest Trump loyalists
The cancelation comes a day after voting software company Smartmatic sued Fox News and three of its hosts – Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo (pictured right) and Jeanine Pirro (pictured left) – for $2.7billion for defamation over their coverage of Trump’s election fraud claims
It also comes as Fox executives feared a shake-up after owner Rupert Murdoch (pictured above) arrived in New York following a months-long quarantine in the U.K.
It also comes as Fox executives feared a shake-up after owner Rupert Murdoch arrived in New York following a months-long quarantine in the U.K.
The News Corp. boss reportedly took on a more hands-on role at the right-wing network after his arrival alongside his son Lachlan.
Top of the priority list is to tackle the decline in ratings seen since Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election in November, insiders said.
After a successful 2020, Fox had fallen behind CNN and MSNBC in the ratings since the election as conserative viewers switched off.
The network has recently hired former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow who is believed to be in the running for his own daily program.
The Times reports that former longtime CNBC host may be a candidate to replace Dobbs on a more permanent basis.
A Fox representative confirmed the cancellation of the Dobbs’ show, which airs at 5pm and 7pm on the Fox Business Network, with the Los Angeles Times.
While his program had the largest audience on any business news channel, with around 300,000 viewers a night in the 7 p.m. Eastern slot, it continued to make a loss for Fox.
Advertisers steered clear of the show over fears of consumer boycotts due to Dobbs’ provocative style.
Dobbs had pushed unfounded claims about flaws with Smartmatic during his show
Former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow (pictured) is a favorite to replace Dobbs
The 75-year-old remains under contract with Fox but according to the Times, it is unlikely he will appear on the company’s networks again.
His show will be renamed ‘Fox Business Tonight’ from next week with Jackie DeAngelis and David Asman acting as rotating substitute hosts. Asman had already filled in for Dobbs on Friday.
Dobbs has also freuqently appeared on the Fox News Channel as commentator, as well as hosting his own Business Network show.
The Times reports that the discussion about replacing him was already underway before the Smartmatic suit was filed on Thursday.
Dobbs’ anti-immigration stance had previouls led to his departure from CNN in 2009
‘As we said in October, Fox News Media regularly considers programming changes and plans have been in place to launch new formats as appropriate post-election, including on Fox Business,’ the representative said in the statement.
‘This is part of those planned changes. A new 5 p.m. program will be announced in the near future.’
The network has already made some changes as it transitions from covering Trump to the Biden administration.
As well as hiring Kudlow, high-profile news anchor Martha MacCallum was moved from her 7pm slot and a fixture of rotating hosts are now overseeing an opinion program in her stead before a permandent new host is named.
The removal of Dobbs could be seen as an attempt to offer balance to programing while not alienating less ideological voters.
He was originally signed to Fox by its former chief executive Roger Ailes in 2011 and has remained loyal to Trump as an outspoken advocate of his economic and immigration policies.
Dobbs’ tough anti-immigration stance had previously led to his departure from CNN in 2009.
While at CNN, he had been regarded as a pioneer of TV business news and led the show ‘Moneyline’, winning a Peabody Award in 1987 for his coverage of the stock market crash.
Yet his incendiary was let loose at Fox where he immediatly made a name for himself with the false claims that President Obama was not born in the United States.
Fox anchor Lou Dobbs was originally signed to the network by former CEO Roger Ailes in 2011
Trump’s election fraud lawyers Rudolph Giuliani (pictured above) and Sidney Powell appeared on Dobbs’ show and were given a platform to push the unfounded claims even further
Both Giuliani and Powell (pictured) have also been named in the Smartmatic defamation suit
Dobbs was particularly angered that Republicans did not do more to argue Trump’s baseless voter fraud claims and often voiced his anger on his show.
Trump’s election fraud lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell appeared on his show and were given a platform through which to push the unfounded claims even further.
In a show following the election on November 30, Dobbs told Powell that Trump must take ‘drastic action, dramatic action to make certain that the integrity of this election is understood or lack of it, the crimes that have been committed against him and the American people’.
‘And if the Justice Department doesn’t want to do it, if the FBI cannot do it, then we have to find other resources within the federal government,’ he added.
Both Giuliani and Powell have also been named in the Smartmatic defamation suit.
The suit – on the heels of another by Dominion Voting Systems – blasts the election fraud narrative that Trump’s lawyers put forward as he sought to cling to power – and claimed Fox used its powerful airwaves to defame the company in the process.
‘The Earth is round. Two plus two equals four. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States,’ the suit begins.
‘The election was not stolen, rigged, or fixed. These are facts. They are demonstrable and irrefutable.’
The suit names Giuliani, who spearheaded his election fraud claims in TV interviews, on his own podcast, and in testimony before panels organized by Republican lawmakers as Trump sought to overturn results.
It also names former Trump campaign lawyer Powell, who the campaign sought to separate itself from after the press conference, although Powell showed up at the White House in the last weeks of the administration.
The complaint filed in New York State Court names the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox Corp., the Fox News Network and Fox hosts Bartiromo, Dobbs and Pirro as defendants.
The suit filed on Thursday identifies the three Fox hosts by name
Rudy Giuliani points to a map as he speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election, inside the Republican National Committee headquarters on November 19
Unlike Dominion, whose technology was used in 24 states, Smartmatic’s participation in the 2020 election was restricted to Los Angeles County, which votes heavily Democratic.
Smartmatic’s limited role notwithstanding, Fox aired at least 13 reports falsely stating or implying the company had stolen the 2020 vote in cahoots with Venezuela’s socialist government, according to the complaint.
This alleged ‘disinformation campaign’ continued even after then-Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice could find no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
‘Night after night, publication after publication, Fox News reached out to its millions of viewers and readers around the world with a story: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did not win the 2020 election; Smartmatic stole the election for them,’ it said, pointing to the role of the network, which aired Trump surrogates and allies making the claims.
The suit says the election fraud claim not only caused direct financial harm to the election company, but harmed the country as well. ‘The story turned neighbor against neighbor,’ it says. ‘The story led a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol.’
Under the theory spelled out in the suit, the defendants knew Trump lost, but wanted him to win.
‘Defendants had an obvious problem with their story. They needed a villain. They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate’ – prompting them to invent the tale involving Smartmatic.
‘Without any true villain, Defendants invented one. Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story,’ it says.
Smartmatic’s 285-page complaint said the defendants ‘have always known these facts.
‘They knew the election was not rigged or fixed,’ it said, but they ‘decided to tell people that the election was stolen’ and to ‘make Smartmatic the villain in their story.’
In December, Dobbs aired a bizarre segment taking on election fraud claims, evidently after receiving a 20-page letter from the company threatening legal action.
”There are lots of opinions about the integrity of the election, the irregularities of mail-in voting, of election voting machines and voting software,’ the host said.
The network later aired fact-check segments in December which included an expert saying he had not seen any evidence of the software being used for fraud.
Pirros’ show and Bartiromo’s aired similar segments.
In a statement, Fox said ‘Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion.
‘We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.’