By Jack Phillips
In the wake of Tucker Carlson’s sudden exit from Fox News, ratings for the cable news channel’s 8 p.m. time slot saw a major drop on April 24 and especially April 25.
The former host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” generated more than 3.3 million viewers nightly, according to Nielsen data. “Fox News Tonight,” the show replacing Carlson’s program, drew just 2.6 million viewers—about a 20 percent drop—in the coveted Monday evening time slot, The Hollywood Reporter said.
On Tuesday, however, the program’s ratings plunged even further. According to Mediaite, only 1.7 million total viewers tuned in at 8 p.m., or about half of Carlson’s nightly viewership.
Fox’s Tuesday show bested Chris Hayes’s 1.45 million total viewers on MSNBC and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, which had 678,000 viewers. Newsmax was behind Cooper with about 562,000 viewers, according to the outlet.
But in what could be seen among Fox’s management as a concerning development, “Fox News Tonight” was third in the key 25–54 age demographic that is coveted by advertisers. CNN’s Cooper came in first, with 163,000 viewers; MSNBC’s Hayes came in second, with 162,000; and “Fox News Tonight” was in third place with 149,000. Before Carlson’s ouster, he regularly led all of cable news in that demographic.
Nielsen ratings for Wednesday’s “Fox News Tonight” broadcast have not yet been published.
At the same time, Fox Corp.—the company that owns Fox News—has seen its shares tumble by about 3.75 percent over the past five days, coinciding with Carlson’s departure.
As it announced it had parted ways with Carlson, Fox said that “Fox News Tonight” will feature a rotating slate of hosts before a permanent replacement is named. Fox morning show host Brian Kilmeade was tapped to host the program on both Monday and Tuesday.
Kilmeade stated during Monday’s show that “as you probably have heard, Fox News and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. 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.”
When reached for comment, a Fox News spokesman pointed to Nielsen data that shows “Fox News led cable news on Monday and Tuesday across total day and primetime with viewers and [the 25-54 demographic].”
Carlson Releases Video
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Carlson posted a video on his Twitter account and was critical of corporate media’s coverage of the news in general. He lamented what he described as “unbelievably stupid” discussion topics that are prominently featured in the media.
“One of the first things you realize, when you step outside the noise for a few days, is how many genuinely nice people there are in this country and decent people who really care about what’s true,” Carlson said, adding that he’s noticed how “unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are.” Further, both major political parties are colluding to shut down debate on “big topics” such as civil liberties, war, demographic change, and corporate power centers.
“They’re completely irrelevant,” he continued to say. “They mean nothing. In five years we won’t even remember that we had them. Trust me, as someone who’s participated.”
Carlson added: “This moment is too inherently ridiculous to continue, so it won’t. When honest people say what’s true calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful. At the same time, the liars who’ve been trying to silence them shrink, and they become weaker.”
But Carlson didn’t address why he and the network suddenly parted ways, if he was fired, or any reasons for his departure. During last week’s final show, Carlson made no indication that he would be leaving and told his viewers: “We’ll be back on Monday; in the meantime have the best weekend”
Fox hasn’t publicly commented on his departure other than saying that “we thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”
In recent years, Carlson became the channel’s most popular host after he replaced Bill O’Reilly, who was ousted in 2016 after settling a sexual harassment probe, during O’Reilly’s time slot. In a video posted to his channel this week, O’Reilly speculated that Fox News was fearful of pending lawsuits against the firm and Carlson.
“There are a number of lawsuits going to be filed shortly against the Fox News’ board of directors,” O’Reilly stated. “Fox News stock was down big today, so FNC is aware those lawsuits are coming. The board of directors themselves, the individuals sitting on the board, they’re going to have to defend themselves. That’s big.”