“As you probably have heard, Fox News and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” so said Brian Kilmeade said on the Monday, April 25 edition of Fox News Tonight. “I wish Tucker the best. I’m great friends with Tucker and always will be. But right now, it’s time for Fox News Tonight, so let’s get started.”
Massapequa native and 1982 Massapequa High School graduate Brian Kilmeade has enjoyed a long and successful career as a broadcast journalist.
Since 1998, he has served as a co-anchor of the popular Fox And Friends morning show, which airs on that cable network from 6 to 9 a.m.
He has also authored several best-selling books, including George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History, Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America’s Destiny, Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History, and The President and The Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul.
Nothing is ever static in journalism. On the above date, Kilmeade faced his greatest challenge: Temporarily replacing Tucker Carlson as host of the latter’s 8 p.m. nightly talk show once the latter was suddenly fired by Fox News.
A good soldier, Kilmeade did not back down from the challenge. It wasn’t an easy task. The firing took place just as Carlson’s staff was preparing for that Monday evening’s show. Later that morning, Harris Faulkner, another Fox anchor, announced Carlson’s firing and word spread rapidly on social media.
Faulkner’s announcement was brief. Kilmeade had to fill an entire hour. Both Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, whose shows followed Carlson’s, now had to watch their own ratings.
For Kilmeade, this was a thankless task. Carlson was the most popular television personality on Fox. His show averaged 3.2 million viewers per evening, the highest-rated cable show in prime time.
A drop in viewers was inevitable. Prior to his firing, Carlson’s show averaged, as noted, over 3 million viewers. As a temporary host, Kilmeade’s ratings averaged 1.3 million, a decline of 56 percent.
His wasn’t the only show to suffer. Hannity’s show fell from 2.7 million viewers in April to the 1.3 to 1.8 million range this month.
Overall, Fox, during the first week of Carlson’s firing, suffered a 45 percent viewership decline.
Not only that, Kilmeade, on social media, had to suffer the barbs of Carlson’s fans.
Peter Navarro, director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy in the Donald Trump administration, tweeted: “BTW, this is why @briankilmeade is such a cowardly ——. An honorable man would have declined to sit in for @TuckerCarlson the very first night of the firing, but no, the biggest Never-Trumper at @foxnews this side of @karlrove went for the carcass.”
On it went.
“Paul Ryan is an advisor for Ron DeSantis and Brian Kilmeade is the biggest DeSimp at Fox News,” tweeted former congressional candidate Laura Loomer. “Another reason why I’ll never vote for DeSantis: The worst people in media and elected office support him. It’s the sewer of endorsements.”
“Fox is having the Zelenskyy Loving/anti-Trump/pro-DeSantis 2024 Brian @kilmeade host Tucker’s slot tonight. Could Fox be any more OUT OF TOUCH with the Republican base?! Paul Ryan and the Murdochs have DESTROYED FOX NEWS!” added Alex Bruesewitz, a Republican Party consultant.
There was also commentary by Steve Bannon, a former senior aide to President Trump.
“LMAO—Kilmeade gives Tucker 9 total seconds of ‘thanks for the memories,” Bannon tweeted. “The Murdochs are Foreigners that Hate MAGA.”
Others maintained that the ratings slump would be permanent.
“Brian Kilmeade takes over for Fox News Tonight in replace of Tucker Carlson,” one Collin Rugg tweeted. “Great show if you are wanting to fall asleep. Fox News is dead.”
Kilmeade’s brief stint as a temporary anchor is over. The spot, as of this writing, is being filled by Fox News personality Lawrence Jones.
Kilmeade is back on Fox and Friends. The network, meanwhile, remained defiant.
“For more than 21 years, Fox News Channel has been cable news’ most-watched network in all categories with more Democrats, Independents and Republicans now tuning in than either CNN or MSNBC,” the company said in a statement. “Attracting more than 50 percent of the cable news viewing audience with the top 12 programs in cable news, Fox News’ powerhouse team of journalists, analysts and opinion hosts are trusted more by viewers than any other news source.”
A few days after the firing, Carlson aired a brief monologue on social media. When the California native does make his return in the format he chooses, more free publicity will come his way.