Jesse Watters: Anger as Fox promotes host that Fauci demanded be fired over ‘kill shot’ comment

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Fox News host Jesse Watters, a co-host of The Five, will take over the network’s 7pm prime time slot, in a move that shifts the network more towards opinion coverage and sparked anger on Twitter.

Mr Watters’ promotion was seen by some as intolerable in the wake of comments he made about Dr Anthony Fauci, head of NIAID, at a conservative conference.

“Jesse’s versatility and hosting acumen has grown exponentially over the last five years, and he has developed a deep connection to the audience through two hit shows The Five and Watters’ World. We look forward to watching him expand his connection even further through this new solo weeknight hour,” said Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media.

Mr Watters added in his own statement: “I’m thrilled to take on this new challenge and am grateful for the opportunity.”

The move answers the question of whether Fox News would continue with a news-centric broadcast for its 7pm hour, one of the most-watched time slots of the day. Martha MacCallum, host of The Story, recently helmed the slot before her broadcast was moved to 3pm in January 2021.

Since then, the network devoted the hour to Fox News Primetime, a show which featured a rotating cast of guest hosts and focused on Fox’s signature right-leaning opinion content exemplified by its most famous employees: Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity.

On Twitter, news of Mr Watters’ promotion was met with mixed reaction, as Fox fans largely reacted with approval while Democrats pointed out angrily that the co-host of The Five had recently called for right-wing activists to ambush Dr Fauci in public while using language that evoked imagery of warfare and violence.

The comments were made at the national conference hosted by Turning Point USA, a right-wing youth group.

“[G]o in for the kill shot,” said Mr Watters at one point in his address to the conference. “The kill shot with an ambush, deadly, because he doesn't see it coming. This is when you say, Dr Fauci, you funded risky research at a sloppy Chinese lab, the same lab that sprung this pandemic on the world. You know why people don't trust you, don't you? Oh, he is dead. He's dead. He's done.”

At no point did Mr Watters actually advocate violence against Dr Fauci, but the NIAID directly has already faced death threats amid sharp criticism from other Republicans and the episode resulted in calls for Mr Watters to be fired or face retribution.

“Based on watching the full clip and reading the entire transcript, it’s more than clear that Jesse Watters was using a metaphor for asking hard-hitting questions to Dr. Fauci about gain-of-function research and his words have been twisted completely out of context,” a Fox News spokesperson previously told The Independent.

As the news broke over Twitter this week, left-leaning critics of Mr Watters erupted with disgust.

Among those who commented were Aaron Rupar, a journalist formerly with Vox.com, and Cheri Jacobus, a former Republican political strategist and current podcast host.

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