Fox News cancels Lou Dobbs’ weekday business show

LOS ANGELES, Feb 5 (Reuters) – Fox Corp’s Fox Business Network has canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” a weekday program hosted by the business journalist and vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, the company said on Friday.

News of the cancellation came one day after Dobbs, 75, was named as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed by voting machine maker Smartmatic, which argued that three Fox hosts including Dobbs falsely accused the company of helping to rig the election against Trump.

Fox said the move to end Dobbs’ show had been in the works before the lawsuit as part of a revamp following the November U.S. presidential election in which Republican Trump was defeated by Democrat Joe Biden.

“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,” a Fox News spokesperson said. “This is part of those planned changes.”

On the Smartmatic lawsuit, Fox said on Thursday the network was “proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”

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Dobbs said he had no comment on Friday.

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The cancellation of Dobbs’ show was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, which said the anchor was unlikely to appear on Fox channels again even though he remains under contract. Dobbs’ show ran at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern time on Fox Business Network, and he appeared at times as a commentator on Fox News Channel.

Starting Monday, Dobbs’ show will be called “Fox Business Tonight” with substitute hosts Jackie DeAngelis on Monday and Tuesday and David Asman from Wednesday through Friday.

A new 5 p.m. show will be announced soon, the Fox spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)