Fox News picks Tucker Carlson to take over for Megyn Kelly

TV host Tucker Carlson (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Tucker Carlson will take over for Megyn Kelly on Fox News next week, the network announced Thursday.

Carlson, a conservative commentator and founder of The Daily Caller web site, is well-known to Fox fans. His two-month-old show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” an out-of-the-box ratings success at 7 p.m., will move to the 9 p.m. hour.

The shift leaves Fox with an all-white-male prime time lineup for the first time in its twenty-year history. Some cable news observers had speculated Fox would replace Kelly with one of the four women who had filled in for her at 9 p.m.

Instead, one of those fill-ins, Martha MacCallum, will take over Carlson’s 7 p.m. time slot for at least a few months.

Fox said in a press release that MacCallum’s new show, “The First 100 Days,” will “chronicle the beginning of the new administration and run through President-elect Trump’s first 100 days in office.”

Fox said MacCallum recently signed a new multi-year deal with the network.

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” has many of the qualities that make a compelling Fox News show, making his promotion a logical decision by Rupert Murdoch and the executives who run the cable news channel.

In his short time at 7 p.m., Carlson has shown a knack for selecting topics of interest to conservative viewers; hosting fiery debates with liberals; and criticizing Fox’s rivals in the mainstream media.

Many of his segments and fights have gone viral. A sampling of recent headlines from the show: “How liberals are slowly killing colleges,” “Journalists exposed by WikiLeaks to cover Trump White House,” and “Tucker vs. student who says Trump shouldn’t be given chance.”

Unlike Fox’s 8 p.m. host Bill O’Reilly and 10 p.m. host Sean Hannity, Carlson does not have a friendly relationship with President-elect Donald Trump dating back decades. He said in a January 2016 column that “Trump might not be my first choice for president.” But he is open-minded about Trump and doesn’t have the antagonistic relationship that Kelly had with him.

At the end of every show, Carlson says his broadcast is “the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink.”

Some Fox fans loath MSNBC’s liberal prime time lineup and vice versa. Fo¬†viewers who are channel surfers, Carlson’s competitors at 9 p.m. will include Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s top-rated host.

In a twist of fate, it was Carlson who brought Maddow into the MSNBC fold more than a decade ago.

Carlson has worked at all three major cable news channels. His first stop was CNN, where he co-hosted “Crossfire.” When “Crossfire” was cancelled in 2005, MSNBC hired him to host an early evening program. Carlson’s producers sought guests for him to spar with, and one of them was Maddow, who was a liberal radio host on Air America.

Now the two of them will present competing views of the world on competing channels.

Carlson moved from MSNBC to Fox in 2009. By then, Maddow had become a prime time host. He said the increasingly liberal-minded MSNBC “didn’t have a role for me” anymore.

Fox News made Carlson a paid contributor and then a co-host of its weekend morning show.

The Drudge Report broke the news of Carlson’s promotion Thursday morning. The announcement came two days after Kelly declined Fox’s offers for a new contract and decided to move to NBC News. Kelly’s last day on Fox will be Friday.