Tucker Carlson is “killing it” on Fox News, and he’s bringing back conservative viewers who weren’t that sorry to see Megyn Kelly leave, analysts say.
Carlson took over the prime-time slot formerly held by Kelly after she announced last month she was heading to NBC News.
She left after a remarkable year when she became a star by taking on then-candidate Donald Trump. She was courted by competitors and penned a best-selling book. Fox News reportedly offered Kelly $100 million to stay. And media observers opined that her exit was a big blow to the cable channel.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“Fox News’s Tucker Carlson is nearly doubling the ratings of his predecessor, Megyn Kelly, when compared to the same time period last year, according to Nielsen Media Research,” The Hill reported this week. ” ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ is up 95 percent in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic that advertisers covet most compared with the same period in 2016, when “The Kelly File” occupied the 9 p.m. ET time slot. Carlson has averaged 775,000 viewers per night in the category, while Kelly averaged 398,000 during the same time period, Jan. 11 — 22.”
“He’s definitely killing it,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who appears frequently on Fox News and the Fox Business Network. “He’s really just knocking it out of the park. What he’s been able to do more than anything else is tap the sentiment out there of Fox viewers while simultaneously really understanding the president and current events.”
Emerson College professor Janet Kolodzy, a former CNN producer, cited the electorate’s mood, saying, “Perhaps people wanted a change.”
Carlson, who worked at CNN and MSNBC, began working at Fox as a contributor in 2009 and landed his own show in November. The network quickly tapped him to replace Kelly — who starts her new NBC job in September — and he took over on Jan. 9.
Kelly’s fight with Trump turned off a lot of Fox’s conservative viewers, said Quinnipiac College professor Ben Bogardus.
“They weren’t very happy with Megyn Kelly to begin with,” Bogardus said. “So when she left, people who had turned away from her started to return.”
Bogardus, who has been watching Carlson since his bow-tie days at CNN, said Carlson’s new show “goes out of its way to make headlines.”
“He’s a very aggressive interviewer. He brings on people who oppose his views and they get into almost screaming matches. Those clips get played on Facebook and conservative media sites, which only increases his visibility,” Bogardus said.
But, Bogardus suggested, Carlson’s schtick could wear thin, and he’ll need to add something new and different to keep viewers’ attention.
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