Fox News Channel has given its 7 p.m. Eastern hour on weeknights to opinion host Jesse Watters, whose star has risen at the network with the ratings success of “The Five,” where he is one of the regular panelists.
Watters will remain on “The Five” but will give up his Saturday night show “Watters’ World,” Fox said on Monday.
Fox’s Martha MacCallum used to host a more news-oriented program at 7 p.m. A year ago, however, the network moved her to daytime when rival Newsmax began getting traction at that hour with host Greg Kelly, although Fox has said the change wasn’t related.
For the past year, Fox has rotated a series of guest hosts, including Watters, doing opinion shows at 7 p.m.
“Jesse’s versatility and hosting acumen has grown exponentially over the last five years, and he has developed a deep connection to the audience,” said Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media.
Particularly in the past year, Fox has beefed up its opinion content.
Watters will be followed in the evenings by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
Watters, 43, started with Fox News in 2002 as a production assistant and quickly gained an on-air role conducting often-comical man-on-the-street interviews for then-Fox star Bill O’Reilly.
He was elevated to his own weekend show and a role on “The Five” in 2017.
That talk show, with the format of four conservative commentators and one liberal talking about the news of the day, has surged in popularity, often reaching more viewers than Fox’s prime-time lineup.
Panelist Greg Gutfeld started his own very successful late-night show on Fox last year, while Dana Perino co-hosts a morning show.
Watters’ new program will start on Jan. 24.
His show will be called “Jesse Watters Primetime” — something of a misnomer since television prime time begins at 8 p.m. on weeknights.
There’s no word on whether Watters’ mother will follow him. In a recurring segment on “The Five,” Watters reads on the air critical texts sent by his liberal mother, including once in 2019 when she wrote, “Please be assured that despite your wretched political orientation I love you forever.”
The announcement of his new show came less than three weeks after Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said that Watters should be fired for using the phrase “kill shot” in a speech urging young conservatives to confront Fauci and ask him questions.
“Now you’re going for the kill shot. The kill shot with an ambush, deadly, because he doesn’t see it coming,” he told the crowd at a recent Turning Point USA conference.
“This is when you say: ‘Dr. Fauci, you funded risky research at a sloppy Chinese lab. The same lab that sprung this pandemic on the world. You know why people don’t trust you, don’t you?’ Boom, he is dead! He is dead! He’s done!”
Fox said that Watters’ words had been taken out of context.
“Based on watching the full clip and reading the entire transcript, it’s more than clear that Jesse Watters was using a metaphor for asking hard-hitting questions to Dr. Fauci about gain-of-function research and his words have been twisted completely out of context,” a Fox representative said, according to CNN.
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