The Ratings Don’t Lie: Fox News Has A Ratings Problem Without Tucker Carlson’s Viewers


In a sudden twist of events, Fox News has a ratings problem on their hands. After abruptly parting ways with Tucker Carlson, ratings for Fox News’s programming dropped like a rock not just in the 8 pm hour, but across the entire night. Like what CNN did after abruptly firing Chris Cuomo, Fox News has opted to air rotating hosts in the hour, branded as Fox News Tonight. Whereas CNN has let their search for a new host drag on seemingly indefinitely, Fox News needs to find someone quickly. First up was Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox & Friends. Viewers who tuned into Fox News nightly for Tucker Carlson are not happy, to say the least. Despite being one of the better-known names on the network, ratings tanked with Kilmeade in charge of the 8 pm hour. 

Unless somehow everyone else Fox News tries in the hour doesn’t work, Brian Kilmeade probably won’t be getting the job permanently. Here are three people who could bring the ratings back to the 8 pm hour, and why: 

The Populist Route: Tulsi Gabbard

Brian Kilmeade is someone who has never been mistaken for anything other than a mainstream Republican. Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, tapped more into the same populist audience that helped Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016. Tucker Carlson’s audience will not show up to support just any Republican, at least not enthusiastically. 

Tulsi Gabbard ran for president as a Democrat in 2020 on a left-wing populist platform. She has since left the Democratic party, and has not warmed up to her former primary rivals of now-President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. She was also notably the only Democrat to have not voted in favor of Donald Trump’s first impeachment. While campaigning, she used Fox News as a platform to spread her message. All this led to her becoming a part-time contributor to the network, including an occasional fill-in host for Tucker Carlson himself. 

Gabbard’s most notable guest-hosting moment was when she had congressman George Santos on the show. She is not afraid to go after both Republicans and Democrats, and would be a good pick is looking for a populist host less controversial than Carlson. By bringing back Tucker Carlson’s viewers, one could make an argument that Tulsi Gabbard would be able to solve Fox News’ newfound ratings woes in the time slot. However, her program would be rather incompatible with the rest of the night, and she may not win over many traditional conservative viewers. Her segments also focus heavily against the war in Ukraine, something Joe Biden is polling better on than most other issues. 

The Insider Route: Jesse Watters

At the beginning of 2021, Fox News created another opinion hour with Jesse Watters Primetime to solve their newfound 7 pm ratings woes. The move was so successful in the ratings that Newsmax moved Greg Kelly Reports out of the hour, a show that for a period of time was neck-and-neck with Fox News. 

If Jesse Watters returns from paternity leave to his 7 pm time slot with ratings that improve upon the current substitutes’, he will likely be the heir apparent for the 8 pm time slot. Having proved himself in the 7 pm hour and also being a panelist on The Five, the shift to 8 pm only seems natural. Plus, we are headed into another election season in which Donald Trump and Joe Biden are both running for president, and Jesse Watters has spent years covering both candidates in the evening hours. 

There is one big problem here, though: Jesse Watters is not Tucker Carlson 2.0. Sure, they’ve focused on plenty of the same topics, and Jesse Watters does occasionally find himself in trouble with other media outlets for things he’s said and done, though not as often as Carlson. The problem is Tucker Carlson Tonight presented a right-wing populist message akin to Donald Trump, whereas Jesse Watters comes across as more of a conservative Republican. Essentially, if Tucker Carlson were Donald Trump, Jesse Watters would be Ron DeSantis. That may be what Fox News wants, but it’s not what Tucker Carlson’s exclusive viewers want. In order to bring ratings back to 8 pm, Jesse Watters’ 7 pm audience would have to follow him to 8 pm, and Fox News would have to find a suitable alternative at 7 pm. 

The Celebrity Route: Roseanne Barr

This sounds crazy at first, but is it really any crazier than CNN hiring Charles Barkley for prime time? Roseanne was just making the rounds on Fox News a couple months ago to discuss her thoughts on the current landscape of comedy as well as her show’s abrupt cancelation. Her “tour” included Tucker Carlson Tonight and Tucker Carlson Today. Roseanne has long built up an image of being an an everyday-person, and would likely be able to connect with an audience in a way in which few celebrities could. Much of the reason why Tucker Carlson Tonight was so successful was Carlson’s ability to come across as relatable to his viewers. This is not a political statement: the same goes for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, for that matter. This is something that Roseanne Barr would likely be able to replicate. It is a formula that is tried and true to bring in the ratings. 

The downside to this is picking an off-network talent to occupy the most important time slot on the schedule is a huge risk. Plus, everyone knows where Roseanne Barr stands on what has been dubbed “cancel culture,” but how would she hold up as an anchor leading into a presidential election? A Roseanne-led show might be best suited paired up with Gutfeld!, and I would call her far from the frontrunner, but anything is possible. 

These are just a few people who could potentially bring ratings back to the 8 pm time slot. Who would you pick to replace Tucker Carlson? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »