FNC says, “There is no deal in place with Laura Ingraham at this time.” That’s in lockstep with a CNN report that’s triggering today’s a-twittering: It says Ingraham “is expected” to take Sean Hannity’s 10 PM timeslot so FNC can deploy Hannity against MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow at 9 PM, where she has been chewing up FNC’s The Five, as well as CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°. CNN agrees with FNC that the deal is not yet fully t-crossed and i-dotted, saying there “may be one or two final details to negotiate.”
The Five is expected to return to the 5 PM timeslot, where its name makes sense. The panel program got moved from the slot to primetime when Bill O’Reilly exited suddenly after an New York Times report alleging that he and Fox spent millions settling harassment allegations over the years. At that time, Tucker Carlson’s 9 PM show was moved to O’Reilly’s 8 PM timeslot, and The Five was shifted to 9, sans co-host Bolling, who remained in the hour to host new show The Specialists, which was created around him.
Fox has been slow-dancing with Ingraham for weeks and weeks. About a month ago, Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report’s posted a rare tweet saying the popular conservative radio host/Donald Trump supporter is in line for a Fox News Channel primetime slot, posting a picture of Ingraham with a caption that read: “FALL PREVIEW: Laura Ingraham’s prime time to shine!”
Ingraham has served as a fill-in host and contributor at the cable news network, so the move made sense as the network mulled life minus Bolling, who was suspended in August pending an investigation into claims he sent unsolicited photo of male genitalia to several women at the network. Bolling denied the accusations. Fox announced his departure three days ago, saying The Specialists had been cancelled.