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Post-Tucker Carlson, Fox News hopes Jesse Watters will bring back viewers

From left, Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld make up Fox News' prime time lineup.
AP
From left, Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld make up Fox News' prime time lineup.

Fox News is revamping its prime-time lineup amid a recent ratings decline triggered by the ouster of Tucker Carlson in April.

The new schedule puts Jesse Watters Primetime in Carlson's old 8 p.m. slot, with Watters also to remain a co-host on The Five. Laura Ingraham's The Ingraham Angle will shift from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m., while Sean Hannity's Hannity will remain at 9 p.m. Gutfeld!, hosted by conservative comedian Greg Gutfeld, will move to 10 p.m.

In addition, the 11 p.m. hour will now be the home to Fox News @ Night, anchored by Trace Gallagher.

"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," Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement. "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."

The new lineup takes effect July 17.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned news network yanked Carlson off the air after settling a massive defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for$787.5 million over the network's airing of bogus claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Fox News and Carlson have also been sued for a hostile work environment by a former senior producer who alleged his show was rife with bigotry and sexism.

The conservative provocateur became a star at the network by spewing xenophobic and often hateful rhetoric that appeals to the far right. More recently he amassed an even greater following by claiming that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was harmless and also simultaneously arranged by antifa and the FBI.

Watters, who first joined the news network in 2002 as a production assistant, is also no stranger to controversy. He was one of several right-wing media personalities who have promoted the false narrative that drag is a left-wing plot to sexualize children. Following the mass shooting at Colorado's Club Q last year, Watters falsely saiddrag shows were designed to "change the mainstream opinion of fringe sexual activity, including, but not limited to, sex with children."

He also received blowback after urging young conservatives to "ambush" the nation's former top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, and "go in for the kill shot."

Despite his dismissal from Fox News, Carlson is still under contract with the network, which says he is not allowed to launch a competing show until his contract ends in early 2025.

But that hasn't stopped him from starting a new one anyway. Earlier this month, he premiered Tucker on Twitter, short 10 to 15 minute long videos that are more monologue than talk show.

Fox News has sent Carlson a cease and desist letter saying he is in violation of his deal.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.
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