GILLIAN REINHARD ’20
On Monday, Apr. 24, current affairs program Tucker Carlson Tonight moved from 9 p.m. ET to 8 p.m., Fox News Channel’s major prime time spot. Tucker Carlson ’92 earned his B.A. in history and was known on Trinity’s campus as a student who loved to debate with classmates. He has had a long, successful career in journalism and a close relationship with Fox News. Tucker Carlson Tonight first premiered on Nov. 14, 2016. The program features Carlson’s interactions with influential figures in the media as well as political commentary.mates. He has had a long, successful career in journalism and a close relationship with Fox News. Tucker Carlson Tonight first premiered on Nov. 14, 2016. The program features Carlson’s interactions with influential figures in the media as well as political commentary.
Tucker Carlson Tonight replaces the long-running news and talk show The O’Reilly Factor after the high-profile termination of political commentator Bill O’Reilly. The popular Fox News figure was forced to leave the network amidst several sexual harassment allegations. The O’Reilly Factor premiered in 1996 and aired on the network for over twenty years. Quickly, the program rose to prominence as Fox News’s most popular show. Over its long duration on air, the program consistently ranked as the United States’ number one cable news show. After the numerous harassment allegations against O’Reilly dominated headlines, Fox News swiftly terminated all association with the talk show host.
The dismissal of O’Reilly from the network follows on the heels of the resignation of Roger Ailes, founder and former CEO of Fox News. Ailes was similarly accused of sexual harassment by several women employed by the network. The lawsuit and eventual resignation of the CEO also was covered extensively by the media. The allegations were followed by the departure of many of Fox News’ most well-known journalists.
Tucker Carlson Tonight was originally created by the network in response to the departure of Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly. The program was initially placed during the 9 p.m. television slot to replace The Kelly File, a political talk show created to resemble The O’Reilly Factor. Kelly left Fox News for a program on rival network NBC during the Ailes controversy.
Trinity maintains several connections to Fox News, including former Fox contributors George Will ’62 and Eli Lake ’94, as well as Jesse Watters ’01, whose career was launched in part due to his segment on The O’Reilly Factor.
Although Carlson is taking the television slot of O’Reilly, his approach to political commentary is intrinsically different and it is unclear if Carlson will maintain O’Reilly’s viewership. With the departure of O’Reilly, Fox News has now lost both its founder and face of the network. Carlson, as the replacement for first Megyn Kelly and now Bill O’Reilly, is quickly becoming one of the network’s most well-known and venerable figures. In a press release from Fox News, Carlson promised to “continue bringing viewers the most honest hour we can do and to remain the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink.”