The on-air auditions to be Tucker Carlson’s replacement now are drawing from Donald Trump’s White House.
Former Press Secretary and Trump 2020 spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany will be taking over the fired Carlson’s 8 PM ET slot next week. It’s the third such replacement for the Rupert Murdoch-owned cable newser’s most watched host in as many weeks. Fox News is trying to crawl out of the ratings crater its primetime has been in since the Tucker Carlson Tonight frontman was unceremoniously shown the door on April 24, soon after the channel settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million over false 2020 election claims.
Having shifted from the GOP-operative crowd to cable news to the former Celebrity Apprentice host’s inner circle for the last year of his administration and back to FNC commentary and Outnumbered co-host gigs over her career, McEnany will take over the slot for five days starting May 8.
“I am honored to share that I will be hosting Fox News Tonight on Fox News at 8pm ET all next week (5/8-5/12)!” McEnany tweeted this afternoon. “Set your DVR,” she added in a nod to Fox’s older audience. “Please join me next week as we dig into the state of politics, media, culture, and faith in America,” the Harvard educated conservative concluded.
While far from the nationalism, race-baiting, anti-immigration stance and more that Carlson fanned the flames of in recent years, the sharp-tongued and partisan McEnany comes with her own controversies.
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, McEnany, serving in the dual role of White House press secretary and campaign adviser, advanced doubts that the 2020 presidential election was legitimate. In one instance, Fox News host Neil Cavuto even cut away from a post-election press conference, noting that she had not produced evidence to back up claims that Democrats were “welcoming fraud.”
McEnany joined Fox News as an on-air commentator in March 2021 – two months after leaving the defeated Trump White House. For a while, she remained a strong and vocal advocate for her old boss. However, in recent months, she has lent her support to former Trump protégé, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to get in the 2024 race. The rebuke of the indicted Trump has seen ex-CNN commentator McEnany now at the receiving end POTUS 45’s social media jabs. “I guess Kayleigh is no longer speaking so favorably about DeSanctimonious now that his Polls are shot!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform in late April.
With Carlson’s unintentionally last show airing on April 21, Fox & Friends’ Brian Kilmeade moved into Carlson’s old chair for the newly dubbed Fox News Tonight for the week of April 24. FNC Weekend host Lawrence Jones was in the slot this week.
Fox News Tonight has been still drawing the most viewers in the 8 p.m. ET timeslot compared to CNN and MSNBC, but its audience is way down versus Tucker Carlson Tonight. FNT has averaged 1.62 million viewers since its debut on April 24. Carlson averaged 3.25 million viewers in March. In the adults 25-54 demo, Fox News Tonight averaged 156,000. Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged 421,000.
Estimated to have been paid about $20 million a year, Carlson has retained the services of Hollywood lawyer and hefty-payout king Bryan Freedman to orchestrate his exit from Fox. In a true case of strange bedfellows, fired CNN alum Don Lemon has also hired Freeman to help with his departure from his cabler news network.