It’s Official: Big Changes Coming to Fox News

Months of speculation ended on Monday September 18 when Fox News programming President Suzanne Scott made the announcement: Fox News’ prime time schedule is set for yet another big change starting next week. This marks the fourth major adjustment in Fox News’ critical evening lineup in less than a year.

The Drudge Report Sept. 18, 2017 2:03 P.M. E.T.

This change has been in the works for about two months. As I reported for American Thinker back on August 16, Laura Ingraham will join the channel with her own show at 10 P.M. E.T. The Ingraham Angle, as it will be called, is scheduled to premiere on October 30. The other big change, which I also reported five weeks ago, is that Sean Hannity, who has been on at 10 P.M. since 2013 (and in prime time on Fox News since the channel launched in 1996), will move to 9 P.M. Last month, the rest of the media got this part of the story wrong in predicting that Hannity would remain at 10 P.M. Hannity, at 9 P.M., will finally be in a position to take on the current cable news leader Rachel Maddow, whose MSNBC show went to the top of the ratings after Bill O’Reilly was fired by FNC last April and The Five was moved to 9 P.M. A weak contender in the ratings in prime time, the ensemble lightweight political chat show The Five will move back to 5 P.M. starting next Monday, making room for Hannity’s shift to the 9 o’clock hour the same night.

Fox executive Scott’s announcement generated a lot of coverage in the media on Monday and was noted at the end of Bret Baier’s news hour Monday evening at 6:59 PM on FNC. At the start of his own Monday night show, Hannity said he would be making a major announcement, which he did with considerable enthusiasm at the end of his program. He appeared to be looking forward to the challenge of overtaking Maddow.

Starting Monday September 25, we’re going to be moving to 9 P.M., back where we started. We’re very happy about it. By the way, all my career I’ve started behind the eight ball. In the month of August, for example, we were number two in cable because for some bizarre reason, conspiracy theory TV is working right now. But with your help and if you help us spread the word, give us a little time, we’re planning on being number one with your help.

We also really want to congratulate our good friend of this program, Laura Ingraham. She’s going to be taking over the 10 P.M. slot at the end of October. As I wrote on Twitter earlier today – when you think about it, I never expected that I would be the bridge between two generations of the Fox News Channel. This is the next generation. We’ve had some changes, obviously – Greta, Bill, and Megyn have all left. I’m glad to be back in my own time slot. It starts next Monday. We’re very proud of Tucker and Martha and now Laura. We’ll see you Monday – Monday night at 9 o’clock. We’ll always be fair and balanced.

Sept. 18, 2017: Sean Hannity announces his show is moving to 9 P.M.

In his Twitter feed, Hannity announced that his FNC show – which has usually been pre-recorded when it aired at 10 P.M. – will return to being live when it moves to 9 o’clock.

Close watchers noted that Hannity, during the closing moments of his show Monday night and for the first time in memory, was holding and waving a pair of reading glasses. After his show aired, I asked him, “What’s with the glasses?” His email reply: “Maddow Anderson glasses. Lol” –  a lighthearted reference to the looming challenge at hand (both Maddow and Anderson Cooper, who is on CNN at 9 P.M., wear glasses during their programs).

Laura Ingraham

While Hannity and Ingraham are both considered to be strong contenders for success in this latest chapter of the ongoing cable news wars, The Five finds itself in a weakened position. Its move back to 5 P.M. after less than five months in prime time is a de facto admission of ratings defeat. Previously, the Five, which premiered in 2011, did very well at 5 P.M., often coming in as the second most-watched program on Fox News. But that was then and this is now.

Arguably the strongest personality on The Five (prior to its move to prime time) was conservative financial expert and author Eric Bolling. In late April, Bolling was assigned to a new show at 5 P.M. that started on May 1, The Fox News Specialists. That show was abruptly canceled the same day Bolling and Fox News parted ways on September 8. Another key player on The Five, longtime Democratic Party operative and liberal stalwart Bob Beckel, was fired on May 19. His replacement was left wing writer and analyst Juan Williams. If anyone could make a viewer miss Beckel’s presence, it’s Juan Williams. Beckel, an acerbic but avuncular personality with a surprising degree of charisma, at least didn’t take himself too seriously and his comments were usually brief and kept to a minimum, a fact that he joked about. Williams is a skilled propagandist for the left, having cut his teeth at PBS, the Washington Post, and NPR. And he takes himself very seriously.

On his nationally syndicated radio show on Monday afternoon, Hannity welcomed as a guest – for the first time since he was fired from Fox News – Bill O’Reilly. Hannity noted that they hadn’t been close, because they didn’t see each other that often and because of “the competitive nature of our business.” But now, he noted, they’ve started to talk.

Over the course of time, we realized we had a lot more in common than we probably ever realized. Bill O’Reilly I think is a victim in many ways of this liberal effort to silence every conservative voice.

Before bringing O’Reilly on, Hannity announced the big news of impending schedule change at Fox News. By all accounts, Hannity is a man with a sense of humor who enjoys a joke; he quipped before going to a commercial break: “Rachel – Hi! I’m Sean. Anderson – How’re you doin’? I’m coming – to a city near you.”

Peter Barry Chowka is a widely published author and journalist.  He writes most frequently these days for American Thinker.  His website is  Follow Peter on Twitter.

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