Fox News has promoted controversial host Jesse Watters to a prime-time nighttime show, which apparently cements the Conservative network’s shift even further to the right.
Watters was called to resign in December after suggesting that people should “ambush” Anthony Fauci and “go for the death blow” by presenting the infectious disease expert with conspiracy theories.
Instead, he’ll host his own show at 7 p.m. on weekday evenings, Fox News reported on Monday.
Jesse Watters Primetime is definitely replacing what was once a relatively “straight” news show hosted by Martha MacCullum. As CNN reported, Fox News ditched MacCullum as of 7 p.m. after the 2020 election, replacing her with a rotating roster of right-wing figures.
Fox News appeared delighted with the news from Watters, with its managing director, Suzanne Scott, praising his “versatility and hospitality” and “deep connection with the public.”
But Watters has a history of controversial statements and tacky programming.
It rose to prominence after visiting Chinatown in New York City for a segment of Bill O’Reilly’s show in 2016.
The video, much of which was based on Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting song, showed Watters asking locals if they should bow to them before visiting a martial arts studio and performing with an ensemble of nunchuks. . The video was interspersed with clips of Mr. Miyagi, a fictional Japanese character from The Karate Kid.
“The despicable and racist behavior of Fox’s Jesse Watters in Chinatown has no place in our city,” then New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, noted.
Watters addressed the controversy on Twitter, writing: “My conversations with men on the streets are meant to be taken as ironic and I regret if anyone has been offended.”
Its prime-time rise comes after the departure of Fox News’ most prominent “direct news” reporter. Chris Wallace, who had been at Fox News for 18 years, has often served as a counterpoint to right-wing opinion that fills nightly schedules but ultimately left for CNN.
NPR reported that Wallace had expressed concerns to management about a Tucker Carlson documentary, Patriot Purge, which attempted to rewrite the events of January 6, 2021 and aired on Fox Nation, the Fox News streaming-only channel.
Watters’ rise was announced less than a month after Fauci called for him to be “fired immediately.” Watters told an audience he should approach Fauci in public and present the 81-year-old with a prepared conspiracy theory.
That, Watters said, would be “the killing blow, with an ambush.” Mortal: because he does not see it coming ”.
Fauci has been the subject of death threats during the coronavirus pandemic.
Watters said: “That’s when you say, ‘Dr Fauci, you funded risky research at a shoddy Chinese lab, the same lab that started this pandemic around the world. You know why people don’t trust you, don’t you?
“Boom, he’s dead! He is dead! He finished !
In a statement released Monday, Fox News said: “Based on viewing the full clip and reading the full transcript, it is more than clear that Jesse Watters was using a metaphor to ask Dr Fauci hard-hitting questions about the gain of function research, and his words have been completely twisted out of context.
Watters also faced backlash after appearing to make sexually charged comments about Ivanka Trump, a charge he denied.
Fox News remains by far the most popular American cable news channel, averaging 1.3 million viewers and 2.4 million in the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. slot when Sean Hannity, Carlson and Laura Ingraham appear.
For the past two decades, the 7 p.m. time has been largely reserved for news or analysis, rather than commentary that Watters will provide. Carlson had a brief stint in the time slot.
Fox News, according to media watchers, has spent the year since Donald Trump’s loss engaging more in themes appealing to the right-wing, including hosts and guests advancing skepticism of the right-wingers. vaccines. Other hosts have told viewers they should consider getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
Most-watched host Carlson defended Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted in November after killing two people during a protest.
The network has been sued by two electoral technology companies over electoral conspiracy theories.