Carlson will take over beginning Monday. Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox and Fox News, made the announcement on Thursday, two days after Kelly revealed she would be leaving the network after 12 years to take a multiplatform deal at NBC News. It is a noticeably swift transition for Murdoch, who continues to call the shots at Fox News in the wake of the ouster last summer of Roger Ailes.
It is obviously a big promotion for Carlson, 47, who has been a consistent media figure for years. He was a host of CNN’s Crossfire, among the first cable news shows to pit the right and left. He also did a stint at MSNBC and in 2010 co-founded The Daily Caller with former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel. He has been a political contributor on Fox News since 2009 and joined the evening lineup in November, taking over the 7 p.m. slot, which was temporarily being filled by Brit Hume in the wake of Greta Van Susteren’s abrupt exit last September. Carlson’s program, Tucker Carlson Tonight, was an immediate hit for the network, averaging 2.8 million viewers and 515,000 in the critical 25-54 demographic. The show will continue to broadcast live from Fox News’ Washington bureau.
“In less than two months, Tucker has taken cable news by storm with his spirited interviews and consistently strong performance. Viewers have overwhelmingly responded to the show and we look forward to him being a part of Fox News’ powerful primetime lineup,” Murdoch said in a statement.
Drudge Report was first to report the news.
Additionally, Martha MacCallum will take over the 7 p.m. slot, effective Jan. 16. MacCallum’s show, The First 100 Days, will track the beginning of the Trump administration. She also will co-anchor the network’s inauguration coverage alongside Bret Baier, the network’s chief political anchor. No word on how MacCallum’s show will evolve beyond Trump’s first few months in the White House, but MacCallum just finalized a multiyear deal to remain at Fox News. (Baier’s 6 p.m. show will expand to two hours next week to fill the 7-8 p.m. hour vacated by Carlson.)
“Martha is a versatile and skilled anchor who has proven to be an essential component of our news programming. For the last 12 years, our viewers have trusted her reporting and we are pleased she will be part of our primetime lineup for the first 100 days of the new presidency,” Murdoch added.
Prior to the announcement, there was speculation that Fox News executives would seek to put a woman in Kelly’s 9 p.m. slot. But Carlson’s show has been a clear ratings winner for Fox News. When Kelly goes — her last day is Friday — the network will be losing its No. 2 star, behind Bill O’Reilly, who has been the linchpin in the Fox News lineup for two decades. He’s had the most-watched cable news show for the past 14 years.
Kelly took to Twitter on Thursday morning to congratulate Carlson. “Congratulations to my friend @TuckerCarlson on moving to the 9p slot at Fox! This is a great decision by FNC & I will be cheering him on!” she tweeted.
Congratulations to my friend @TuckerCarlson on moving to the 9p slot at Fox! This is a great decision by FNC & I will be cheering him on!
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) January 5, 2017