Fox News choose Jesse Watters to replace Tucker Carlson in primetime shakeup

Fox News has named Jesse Watters as Tucker Carlson’s permanent replacement as part of a major shakeup of its primetime lineup.

The rightwing network announced Watters would take over the 8pm hour with Laura Ingraham’s The Ingraham Angle moving from 10pm to 7pm.

Sean Hannity will remain in his 9pm time slot with Greg Gutfield’s comedy show Gutfield! moving an hour earlier to 10pm.

Carlson was abruptly axed from Fox News in April, days after it paid $787.5m to Dominion Voting Systems to settle a defamation lawsuit over lies about the 2020 presidential election.

The new primetime lineup will debut on 17 July, Fox said in a press release.

Watters’ appointment as host of the 8pm hour marks a return to the time slot where he first made his name as a man-on-the-street interviewer for Bill O’Reilly’s programme The O’Reilly Factor.

The 44-year-old went on to host his own show Watters’ World in 2015 before becoming a regular host of the roundtable panel show The Five in 2017.

Jesse Watters will take over Tucker Carlson’s vacant 8pm show

(Associated Press)

He started hosting Jesse Watters Primetime in the 7pm hour in 2022, and has emerged as one of Fox’s most strident culture warriors and most incendiary anchors.

In 2021, Watters told a Turning Point USA conference that activists should target former White House infectious disease tsar Anthony Fauci with a “kill shot”.

In 2016, Watters apologised after a “racist” segment talking to residents of New York City’s Chinatown.

He is also one of Donald Trump’s most ardent defenders on Fox News, and recently pushed conspiracy theories about Joe Biden’s involvement in the former president’s indictment.

Carlson has since moved his racist and conspiracy-laden show to Twitter, prompting a bitter dispute with Fox News over an apparent breach of his $25m annual contract.

Fox had tried out a revolving cast of hosts in the 8pm hour, including former Trump administration press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Harris Faulkner.

Fox’s ratings fell dramatically in the weeks after Carlson’s ousting, losing around 50 per cent of its viewers in his former 8pm slot and two-thirds in the key 25-54 demographic.

After briefly losing its coveted spot as the highest rating cable news network to MSNBC, Fox reclaimed the number one position last week.

According to Nielsen figures, Fox News averaged 1,064,000 viewers across the entire day from 12 to 18 June, with MSNBC averaging 856,000 viewers and CNN averaging 628,000.

In a statement, the network’s CEO Suzanne Scott said: “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.”

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