Tucker Carlson, the pugnacious primetime host who has torn up the 7 PM timeslot for Fox News Channel since November, has landed the network’s 9 PM timeslot being vacated by Megyn Kelly. So ends all talk of FNC giving the timeslot to a woman so that it’s 8-11 PM primetime slate will not be hosted entirely by men.
That said, Martha MacCallum is taking over the 7 PM slot Carlson held briefly; she will anchor a show covering President-elect Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office; appropriately called, The First 100 Days, it will be based in New York.
MacCallum will co-anchor the network’s Inauguration Day coverage on January 20 alongside Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier. MacCallum, who has been co-anchoring America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer since 2010, recently signed a multiyear deal to remain with Fox News.
Shannon Bream, the network’s Supreme Court reporter who also has anchored FNC’s Sunday program America’s News Headquarters, is taking MacCallum’s spot on American Newsroom.
Carlson officially makes the move to 9 on January 9. He takes over the hour from Kelly, who announced Tuesday she is leaving FNC to join NBC News as host of a morning show and a Sunday primetime program. MacCallum starts her new gig on Monday, January 16 – inauguration week; Baier will do 6-8 PM duty all of next week.
“In less than two months, Tucker has taken cable news by storm with his spirited interviews and consistently strong performance,” Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox and Executive Chairman of Fox News, said of today’s news. “Viewers have overwhelmingly responded to the show, and we look forward to him being a part of Fox News’ powerful primetime lineup.”
Carlson’s move to primetime ended all talk of the network going in a less conservative direction with the exit of chief Roger Ailes over the summer. That chatter had persisted in some industry quarters, despite comments to the contrary made by Murdoch, who stepped in as Fox News interim CEO in the wake of Ailes’ ouster. Murdoch selected Carlson to take the hour vacated by Greta Van Susteren – the first big on-air move since Murdoch moved in.
Since its debut at 7 PM, Tucker Carlson Tonight has averaged 2.8 million viewers and 515,000 in the 25-54 demographic, up 23% in viewership and 26% in 25-54 compared with the same period last year. In his show’s brief run to date, Carlson tops MSNBC and CNN combined in total viewers and in the demographic groups 25-54, 18-49 and 18-34.
Carlson has been with FNC since 2009 as a political contributor and was named co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend in 2012. Prior to joining the network, Carlson hosted the political program Tucker on MSNBC from 2005-08 and spent five years at CNN co-hosting The Spin Room and later Crossfire.
“After more than a dozen years at Fox News, I have decided to pursue a new challenge,” Megyn Kelly had announced Tuesday on at the close of The Kelly File, saying she wanted to spend more time with her three young children. “I’ll be leaving Fox News at the week’s end and starting a new adventure, joining the journalists at NBC News, who I deeply admire.” FNC announced on Tuesday that Friday would be her final day on the cable news network, though her contract runs into the summer.
In that exit announcement, FNC did not say how it planned to fill its 9 PM hour that’s been home to the second-most watched program in all of cable news, contributing much to the network’s calendar-year finish as most watched basic cable channel. It had been presumed by pundits covering the development that FNC would replace Kelly in the timeslot with another female host, lest it wind up with “a lot of males, back to back” — what with Carlson getting Bill O’Reilly’s lead-in timeslot, upon the departure of Van Susteren who also has been speculated to be heading to NBC News, to work for MSNBC. Van Susteren left in September, taking to Facebook to explain she took advantage of a much-discussed clause in her contract allowing her to leave if Ailes exited the network, explaining her hasty exit with: “The “key man” clause had a time limitation, meaning I could not wait.” That action triggering chatter it might be the start of a “key man” exodus, given that both O’Reilly and Sean Hannity had similar language in their contracts. It did not materialize, and now those two men, airing at 8 and 10 PM, respectively, will hammock Carlson’s show.