Lou Dobbs was booted from Fox Business on Friday when the right-wing news network cancelled his weekday TV show which had become a launching pad for a number of false election fraud theories perpetuated by former President Donald Trump and his allies in the wake of Trump’s electoral defeat in the 2020 presidential race.
Dobbs’s departure after ten years on the network comes a day after the election technology company Smartmatic filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox Corporation and Fox News seeking damages of at least $2.7 billion. The suit named Dobbs as an individual defendant along with two other Fox anchors, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro.
“Plans have been in place to launch new formats as appropriate postelection, including on Fox Business,” the network said in a statement obtained by The Los Angeles times who first reported the show’s cancellation. “This is part of those planned changes.”
Apart from the network’s statement it’s unclear whether the network’s concerns about Dobbs had been sparked purely by the lawsuit or if the cancellation had been in the works some time before, but the move notably comes on the heels of Smartmatic pointedly citing the show in its lawsuit.
A Fox News spokesperson defended its election coverage in a statement Thursday, saying, “we are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend against this meritless lawsuit in court.”
A source familiar with personnel matters told The New York Times that the pro-Trump host’s extreme and longstanding endorsements of Trump’s election falsehoods had threatened his position, as did comments he made during the deadly Capitol riot last month. Although others on the right-ring news networks have made similarly bogus claims and have not had their shows cancelled.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) responded to the news in a tweet early Saturday appearing to highlight the lawsuit’s bearings on the decision to boot the pro-Trump host.
“The guy can lie with impunity for years, but a lawsuit, and the prospect of having to answer questions under oath, suddenly changes everything,” Whitehouse said.
Trump responded to the news of the cancellation in a statement Friday evening: “Lou Dobbs is and was great. Nobody loves America more than Lou. He had a large and loyal following that will be watching closely for his next move, and that following includes me.”
Dobbs meanwhile began immediately retweeting posts that lavished praise on his show.
Others took to Twitter in cheer over the news of the show’s cancellation:
— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) February 6, 2021
First reaction: Good on Fox News for getting rid of a programming liability. Second reaction: Nah, the network took this step after getting hammered in a 285-page complaint that lays bare Dobbs' promotion of the lie that the election was stolen from former President Trump.
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) February 6, 2021
Those are the big ones.
And then Janine Pirro. She needs to go too.
— Pam Keith, Esq. (@PamKeithFL) February 6, 2021
End of an error https://t.co/fiifpaq9A1
— Cole Leiter (@coleleiter) February 6, 2021
Seventeen days earlier, and Lou Dobbs might have scored a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) February 6, 2021
Whenever I’m having a tough day, I will think about yesterday, when Lou Dobbs had a much worse day, and it will make everything seem a bit better.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 6, 2021
Let’s take a moment to look back at some of Lou Dobbs’ career highlights. Ok, done.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) February 6, 2021
Ok here's a limerick
There once was a man named Lou
Who said some things that weren't true
So the people he slimed
Got some lawyers and primed
A lawsuit that'll make him turn blue
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) February 6, 2021
I'm still giddy from Lou Dobbs getting fired! https://t.co/GTGqZU27Cg
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) February 6, 2021