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Laura Ingraham gets a Fox News show; Hannity to battle Maddow

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Laura Ingraham

According to various reports, conservative pundit Laura Ingraham will soon have a primetime Fox News show, and Sean Hannity will be making a move. CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting that Ingraham — so great a supporter of President Donald Trump that she was in serious consideration to replace Sean Spicer as White House press secretary — will move into the 10 p.m. weeknight spot. Sean Hannity will move his show back an hour, to 9 p.m. Who’s the loser in this scenario? The Five, which, after failing to provide much competition for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, is booted from 9 p.m. to slink back to its original time period, 5 p.m.

Another loser in this scenario? Your eardrums: From 8 to 11 p.m., Fox now has a lineup — Tucker Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham — that’s loaded with hosts who really don’t mind yelling at their guests. Ingraham is a popular radio host, but she has never really taken off on TV. Her two previous efforts in this medium were busts: the late-1990s show Watch It on (whaddaya know) MSNBC, and on Fox News, her Just In was just out within a year in 2008. But it’s a different media landscape in the Trump era, so there’s no reason to believe Ingraham won’t make a success of this. She’s totally in line with this primetime lineup’s unswerving support of absolutely everything Trump does or says. See her defending Trump’s response to the Charlottesville unrest against poor Charles Krauthammer.

Although I’m sure The Five’s time-period demotion is going to cause co-host Jesse Watters to wet his pillow with tears for a couple of nights, it makes business sense. The network’s latest 5 p.m. show, The Fox News Specialists, was an awkward botch from the start, and lost its main host when Eric Bolling was suspended for allegedly sending lewd photos to female colleagues. The really interesting aspect to this entire shift will be seeing how well Hannity does up against Rachel Maddow. Maddow has been beating Carlson and Hannity in recent ratings periods, but I would be surprised if she can sustain this victory, for a simple reason: MSNBC has never been able to give her a strong lead-in. Chris Hayes hosts an extremely good, solid hour in All In, but its ratings are weak. The new lineup of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity, and whatever Ingraham will title her show looks smart from a programming point of view, and is a consolidation of Fox News’ current political messaging, which is to keep every show unified in its pro-Trump point of view. Turns out, the now seemingly long-ago departures of its two biggest personalities, Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly, continue to cause roiling waves of change at Fox.

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