Sean Hannity opened his Wednesday midday radio show casually talking about Joe Biden’s handling of the debt-default crisis happening in Congress – but did not address a Drudge Report headline saying he was soon to move to Tucker Carlson’s old 8 p.m. ET slot as part of a major primetime shakeup at Fox News.
Drudge posted a banner headline on Wednesday claiming the exclusive, saying that “Hannity” would move to 8 p.m., and that Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Waters would be moving to join him in primetime. There was no attribution or additional information, however, and the headline linked to a Mediate write-up of the Drudge headline.
Fox strongly denied that any programming decisions had been made in the wake of Carlson’s ouster: “No decision has been made on a new primetime line-up and there are multiple scenarios under consideration,” Fox News said in a statement Wednesday.
Drudge wrote that a “top source” told the site founder otherwise:
“FOXNEWS preparing to announce ambitious new schedule, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned, a schedule where every hour of primetime will change!,” Drudge wrote Wednesday. “TOP SOURCE: ‘IT’S OUR BOLDEST AND MOST FEARLESS LINE-UP EVER’… “
The move would hew to Fox News’ tradition of successfully closing ranks when a top host goes poof, as Lachlan Murdoch himself was happy to point out on Wednesday, citing high-profile exits of Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Glenn Beck. “We’ve done this before, right?” he said at during MoffettNathanson’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
But Fox will have a unique problem trying to replicate that formula, in that “Gutfeld!” has been a breakthrough foray into late-night fare, and both he and Watters already apply their time as members of “The Five.” That’s a whole lot of programmed hours that are demonstrably not broken, and they are a big reason Fox News is still the most-watched cable news channel across the board post-“Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Laura Ingraham, who’s kept a ratings-winning formula in the 10 p.m. ET pocket since 2017, would be the odd-host out in this scenario, assuming it’s true that both Gutfeld and Watters are getting dedicated hours in the 8 p.m.-10 p.m. bloc. But that’s still a big if, and even then, there would be options for “Ingraham Angle,” perhaps at Watters’ current 7 p.m. start time.