Jesse Watters will take over Tucker Carlson’s former Fox News time slot, the network announced on Monday in a dramatic reshaping of the network’s primetime opinion lineup.
Watters will move from 7 to 8 p.m., keeping the title of his show, Jesse Watters Primetime, as well as his co-hosting duties at 5 p.m. on The Five, the network’s most-watched program. Shifting up to the 7 p.m. slot will be Laura Ingraham, who’ll vacate her 10 p.m. hour to make way for Greg Gutfeld’s chat show Gutfeld!
Meanwhile, Trace Gallagher’s late-night broadcast, titled Fox News @ Night, will move up to 11 p.m. Sean Hannity’s long-running primetime program will remain in its current 9 p.m. slot.
“FOX News Channel has been America’s destination for news and analysis for more than 21 years and we are thrilled to debut a new lineup,” CEO Suzanne Scott wrote in a statement, according to Mediaite. “The unique perspectives of Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, and Greg Gutfeld will ensure our viewers have access to unrivaled coverage from our best-in-class team for years to come.”
Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera reacted to the news of Watters, his longtime co-host on The Five, getting promoted to Carlson’s old spot by telling The Daily Beast: "Jesse Watters will do a great job at 8 pm—modern conservative without the crazy. He made a big impression doing Watters World on the old O'Reilly show; he’s done well on The Five [and his 7 pm show]. 8 should come naturally.”
The schedule change comes exactly nine weeks after the network fired its previous primetime titan, Tucker Carlson, reportedly for a multitude of reasons centering around his comments unearthed as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox (which the network settled for $787 million just days before Carlson was given the boot).
The network initially replaced Carlson with a stopgap Fox News Tonight, featuring a rotating lineup of hosts including Brian Kilmeade, Kayleigh McEnany, and Harris Faulkner. Its ratings never reached the highs of Carlson’s program, averaging less than 2 million viewers per night compared to his near-constant average of 3 million viewers in Q1 2023.
Sources at Fox News indicated to The Daily Beast that the network’s primetime reshuffle was a “safe” move, especially since the conservative cable giant has seen its weeknight ratings plummet since Carlson’s firing. At the same time, they suggested that Ingraham—who has been in primetime since 2017—would likely be “pissed” about the move, especially since she now has Bret Baier’s “hard news” program Special Report as her lead-in rather than getting the handoff from her pal Hannity’s Trump-boosting talk show.
As one network reporter put it, it could prove an “awkward handoff” from Baier to Ingraham, especially because of her long adversarial relationship with the network’s “straight news” side. “Personally, I think we’d all be better off if [Fox News] just eliminated programming after 6:59 p.m.,” the reporter quipped.
Carlson has since taken to Twitter, where he has posted conspiratorial-laden monologues from a private studio, ranging between 10 and 18 minutes in length, as he wages war against his former employer to be free of his contract.
A forthcoming lineup reshuffle was first reported by The Drudge Report last month. Drudge claimed that Fox would replace Carlson with Hannity and move Watters and Gutfeld into primetime, leaving some observers unsure of what would become of Ingraham’s show—and her place at the network. The frenzy prompted Fox to release a tepid statement of support for the host, though it did not commit to keeping her in primetime.
Even before Fox saw its sharp, post-Carlson ratings decline, Ingraham’s viewership had not been on solid ground. The Ingraham Angle had seen occasional slippage behind Gutfeld!, even though his program aired within the late-night schedule block.