Fox News Media has cancelled Lou Dobbs' show, benching its business network’s highest-rated host and a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump as both Dobbs and Fox face a billion-dollar lawsuit over false claims about the integrity of the 2020 election.
The move, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times and confirmed by a Fox News spokesperson Friday, came one day after Fox and Dobbs were named in the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Smartmatic, a voting software company that was the subject of several false claims made on Fox News and Fox Business.
In a statement, a Fox News spokesperson portrayed the move as something that had been planned prior to the lawsuit.
"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 — this is part of those planned changes,” the spokesperson said.
Dobbs' show, "Lou Dobbs Tonight," will be replaced by "Fox Business Tonight" with rotating hosts Jackie DeAngelis and David Asman.
"A new 5PM program will be announced in the near future," the spokesperson said.
The cancellation brings an end to Dobbs' decade-long run on the network, where he was a staunch advocate for Trump and many of his most conspiratorial views. Dobbs was previously a host on CNN.
The Smartmatic suit alleges that Fox News, three of its hosts — Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro — and Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell defamed the company by falsely claiming that Smartmatic was used to rig the 2020 election.
In at least 13 different instances, those hosts or guests advanced demonstrably false claims about Smartmatic and its role in the 2020 election, including claims that it was being used to change the outcome in battleground districts. (In fact, Smartmatic software was only used in Los Angeles County, and there is no evidence of election fraud.)
If Fox News were forced to pay Smartmatic $2.7 billion in damages, it would effectively wipe out almost all the profit the company created for its parent company, Fox Corp., in the fiscal year of 2019.
In a statement, Fox News said it was "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."