Major shake-up rocks Fox News

Yesterday, with nine days left before Democrats take total control of the federal government, stunning news rocked the world of conservative media.  In addition to a disputed report on a talk radio ban, a news release emailed to this reporter on Monday morning, and a subsequent article here, announced the new program lineup at Fox News, scheduled to launch on January 18 — representing the most significant changes in the channel's daytime and early prime time schedule since 2017.

The release quoted Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott:

As we kick off a new year, we are excited to announce new changes to our schedule. We have the best-in-class anchors, interviewers, reporters and talent in all of news media. This new powerful lineup ensures FOX News Media will continue to deliver outstanding coverage for our viewers who depend on the most trusted names in the business.


Martha MacCallum.

The biggest change is the move of Martha MacCallum's 7 P.M. E.T. news program The Story out of early prime time to the 3–4 P.M. slot, replacing Bill Hemmer Reports.  Hemmer was chosen to anchor that daily news program after the departure of Shepard Smith in October 2019.  Hemmer is not out of the picture, however: starting next Monday, when the new schedule kicks in, he returns to co-anchoring a shortened version (9–11 A.M. E.T.) of America's Newsroom — the morning news show from whence he came — but with a new co-host, Dana Perino.  Hemmer's previous co-host Sandra Smith is moving on to co-host a brand-new afternoon program, America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith, from 1 to 3 P.M.  Roberts is transitioning to a studio anchor role after having served as Fox News's principal White House correspondent for the past four years.

A significant subtlety in the evolution of Fox News is the replacement of MacCallum's early prime-time news show by an opinion program as the new lead in to Fox News's strongest suit: its three-hour block of opinion shows each weeknight from 8 to 11 P.M. E.T., all three of which are then repeated for the West Coast time zone.  As Fox News's P.R. release noted:

A rotating group of FOX News opinion hosts will helm the 7 PM hour, entitled FOX News Primetime. A permanent 7 PM/ET opinion host will be named at a later date.

The successful conservative-dominated prime-time schedule consisting of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham will not be impacted.  MacCallum is a prominent news anchor on Fox News.  Since the departure of Megyn Kelly from FNC in January 2017, MacCallum has shared co-hosting duties with Bret Baier on FNC's coverage of important events like election night, political debates, and conventions.

Numerous media outlets have reported in the past two months about the precipitous decline in Fox News's ratings dominance, especially in the daytime.  The fact that the 7 P.M. hour has not yet been assigned a permanent host suggests that the shake-up of the schedule has not been planned much in advance.  It should be noted that predictions of Fox News's demise may be premature, as even Newsweek concluded after President Trump tweeted several attacks on the channel following his election loss.

Update:

Fox News media relations emails:

FOX News Media regularly considers programming changes, including to its daytime lineup, and will launch new formats as appropriate after the election. These changes are being made independent of any other ongoing matter.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran journalist who writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications.  He also appears in the media, including recently as a contributor to OANNBBC World News, and Fox News.  Peter's website is http://peter.media.  His YouTube channel is here.  For updates on his work, follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.