A year after Fox News booted “straight news” anchor Martha MacCallum from the 7 p.m. time slot during a shakeup of the weekday lineup, the network finally announced on Monday that Jesse Watters would permanently take over as host of the pivotal hour.
Fox News Primetime, which will now be named Jesse Watters Primetime, has been manned by a series of rotating (and competing) hosts over the past year. Besides Watters, the hour-long opinion talk show has been hosted by veteran Fox News personalities such as Maria Bartiromo and Brian Kilmeade, as well as lesser-known contributors like Tammy Bruce and Ben Domenech.
Watters, who rose to fame at Fox News for his ambush interviews on disgraced ex-host Bill O’Reilly’s nightly show, has seen his star rise at the network in recent years. Not only has he become one of the regular co-hosts of the top-rated late-afternoon roundtable show The Five but he has also anchored his own weekend show, Watters’ World, over the past few years.
“I’m thrilled to take on this new challenge and am grateful for the opportunity,” Watters said in a statement about his new gig. Jesse Watters Primetime will officially launch on Jan. 24.
The network touted the ratings of both of those shows when announcing on Monday that Watters would now helm his own weeknight show.
“Jesse’s versatility and hosting acumen has grown exponentially over the last five years, and he has developed a deep connection to the audience through two hit shows The Five and Watters’ World,” Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement. “We look forward to watching him expand his connection even further through this new solo weeknight hour.”
Fox News also noted that with his new weeknight duties, Watters would be giving up Watters’ World and that a new 8 p.m. Saturday show would be announced soon. Watters, however, will remain a co-host of The Five moving forward.
Watters has frequently courted controversy during his two decades at Fox News. He sparked intense backlash and calls for his firing after a 2016 man-on-the-street sketch in Chinatown that featured blatantly racist stereotypes of Asian people, prompting him to offer a mild apology.
Recently, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Watters “should be fired on the spot” for urging Fox News fans to “ambush” him on the street with “kill shot” questions. The network defended its star following backlash over his comments, claiming it was “more than clear” that Watters was “using a metaphor for asking hard-hitting questions” and his “words have been twisted completely out of context.”