(The Hill) — Tucker Carlson is out at Fox News, which means the network now has a massive hole to fill in its formidable prime-time lineup.
It’s a high-profile job that promises to make whoever gets it more famous and powerful, and the network is buzzing a week after Carlson’s surprise exit over who might get the position.
Here are some of the names most likely to be in the conversation.
Watters is the odds-on favorite to replace Carlson at 8 p.m.
Waters, a star who has risen through the network’s ranks over the past several years, hosts a show in the hour preceding Carlson and is a leading panelist of the network’s top-rated debate show “The Five.”
A sharp-tongued conservative who, like Carlson, has proven willing to attack Republicans and Democrats, Watters would be a consistent successor to the former Fox star, providing an audience with tested populist takes and quirky nonpolitical segments.
The only downside to putting Watters at 8 p.m., from Fox’s point of view, might be how to replace him at 7 p.m.
That hour was previously home to a straight news program anchored by Martha MacCallum and could serve as the launchpad for the next prime-time hopeful at Fox.
Kilmeade had the tough task of filling in for Carlson on the night he was ousted from the network and the days immediately following his shocking departure.
“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,” Kilmeade said last Monday night.
During a radio interview days later, Kilmeade offered a full-throated endorsement of the editorial direction of Fox, which is still reeling from a $787.5 million payment it made to Dominion Voting Systems to settle a defamation lawsuit stemming from former President Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election — which were echoed and amplified on Carlson’s program, among others.
“We’re strong as ever. … These are a bunch of people who think they can run this network, and they can’t,” Kilmeade said of the network’s critics.
A veteran of the network’s flagship morning program “Fox and Friends” who has been known to publicly spar with co-hosts, Kilmeade is a recognizable name and would be a safe choice to permanently host in prime time.
Kilmeade’s ratings last week replacing Carlson lagged significantly behind the departed host.
But if the network is looking for someone who will defend the former president and be willing to change his sleep schedule to do so, Kilmeade could be that asset.
Faulkner hosts a daytime news and analysis program called “The Faulkner Focus” and is known inside and outside the network for her penchant for sparring with guests and contributors who appear on her program to discuss the news of the day.
Though she does not make regular appearances on Fox’s prime-time shows as often as other members of its deep roster, Faulkner could bring a fresh perspective and a new face to the channel’s evening lineup.
If Fox leadership were to choose her to replace Carlson at 8 p.m., she would notably join Laura Ingraham in making two-thirds of the network’s prime-time lineup female, bookending Sean Hannity’s long-running show in the 9 p.m. hour.
It remains unclear whether Faulkner, a news anchor, would be willing to make the jump to Fox’s “opinion side” as it is often referred to internally, but the prestige and money associated with a prime-time hosting slot could prove hard to resist.
Many everyday Fox viewers could easily forget Morgan collects a paycheck from Rupert Murdoch these days.
The bombastic host and interviewer recently inked a deal to host a show on British TalkTV and pen regular columns in Murdoch’s New York Post.
There is one defining characteristic of Morgan’s persona in recent years that would make considering him to replace Carlson more than complicated, however: His stance on Trump.
Morgan has in recent months lambasted the former president over his statements and rhetoric since leaving office while at the same time heaping praise on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is widely expected to challenge Trump for next year’s Republican presidential nomination.
If Murdoch were to tap Morgan, who he recently referred to as a broadcaster “every channel wants but is too afraid to hire,” as a replacement for Carlson, it would be seen as a further escalation of tensions between the former president and the billionaire media magnate.