Fox News’ decision to tap Brian Kilmeade as the host of “Fox News Tonight” at 8 p.m. ET, following the departure of Tucker Carlson, has not been without its challenges. Since his debut last Monday, ratings for Kilmeade’s fill-in show have reportedly dropped significantly with each consecutive day.
Amid mounting criticism directed towards Fox News following the exit of Tucker Carlson and a subsequent dip in primetime ratings, host Brian Kilmeade took to the airwaves to defend his network.
Speaking on a podcast with host Frank Morano last week, Kilmeade emphasized that Fox was “just as strong as ever,” and pointed out that popular hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Bret Baier, and The Five were all still part of the network’s lineup. In his view, the continued presence of these popular personalities is a clear indication that Fox remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of cable news.
“[Fox] is just as strong as ever. I mean, put it this way. I mean, did Sean Hannity change? Did Laura Ingraham change? Did Bret Baier change? Did The Five, the No. 1 show in all of television, change?” he asked rhetorically.
“Tucker’s very different,” he added. “He’s the original thought leader. I’m with his team now. They’re unbelievable in terms of producers. You’ve got a great producing team here.”
Kilmeade then shot back at media critics, such as former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who runs the podcast “WarRoom,” and others who have called for regular watchers to stop watching the network due to Tucker Carlson’s departure.
“These are a bunch of people who think they can run this network and they can’t. And one thing I will tell you … no one tells us what to do,” he said. “No one—’Fox & Friends,’ three hours in the morning, three-hour radio show, you know, something goes wrong, we have media relations call and say, ‘What happened?’ That’s about it. So it’s the No. 1 show for 25 years. And I don’t think we have to curtail our format to make Steve Bannon happy.”
In response, Bannon wrote a response on Gettr suggesting that Kilmeade is being used as a mouthpiece by Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s family.
“The Murdochs try to punch back [at] WarRoom with yapping puppy Kilmeade as he implodes in Tucker’s old slot,” Bannon claimed.
According to ratings, Fox News’ temporary host, Brian Kilmeade, saw a significant drop in viewership during the first week of his show, “Fox News Tonight,” following Tucker Carlson’s exit. The first airing of the show drew 2.59 million viewers, but the number dropped to 1.7 million by Tuesday, and then to 1.33 million on Wednesday, coming in second behind MSNBC’s “All In” with Chris Hayes.
This is a sharp decline from the 3 million viewers Carlson had averaged in March. Additionally, Fox News’ other primetime programs hosted by Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Jesse Watters also experienced lower ratings in the past week, with the exception of “Gutfeld,” hosted by Greg Gutfeld.
Fox News recently chose Lawrence Jones, a 30-year-old self-avowed libertarian, to temporarily take over hosting Fox News Tonight, the interim show placed in the time slot where Tucker Carlson Tonight used to air.
Jones, who hosts Lawrence Jones Cross Country on Saturday nights for the network, is also reported to be the “youngest black solo host of a cable news show in history.”
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.