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Fox News announced Monday that it was giving Jesse Watters a coveted weeknight show.
Watters is the perfect person for the job.
That is not a compliment.
Watters is unapologetic and insufferable, a far-right pot-stirrer, good for ratings and bad for everything else. Like, the country. His promotion, filling what was once a transitional news-and-opinion time slot, fits in with the further tilt to harder-right opinion that Fox News has undergone since Donald Trump lost the election and started touting truly unhinged networks like One American News Network and, to a lesser extent, Newsmax.
What to expect from 'Jesse Watters Primetime' on Fox News
The show will be called “Jesse Watters Primetime,” and will air starting in late January at 5 p.m. in Arizona, 7 p.m. on the East Coast. Think of it as an appetizer for the three shows that follow — the ones hosted by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
Whew. That's a lot. And Watters fits right in.
He will remain co-host of “The Five,” which precedes his new show on the schedule. It’s a liberal-bashing panel show, kind of like if you had to be a member of the John Birch Society to be part of the Algonquin Round Table.
With deepest apologies to the memories of Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.
Watters will give up his weekend show, “Watters’ World.”
Channel changes: The biggest moves in metro Phoenix TV news in 2021
Why Fauci recently called for Fox News to fire Watters
In December 2021 during a right-wing conference in Phoenix, Watters suggested to the audience that they should “ambush” Dr. Anthony Fauci and “go in for the kill shot” when confronting the country’s top infectious-disease expert with false and misleading claims about the origin of the COVID-19 virus.
The network defended Watters, saying his remarks were metaphorical and not literal, taken out of context.
Come on. They were wildly inappropriate, directed at someone who has repeatedly been threatened by right-wing activists who have been spoon-fed lies and misinformation about the pandemic. There is simply no excuse.
Fauci, for his part, said Watters “should be fired on the spot” but that “he’s going to go, very likely, unaccountable.”
Go unaccountable? He got promoted.
Watters’ show takes the place of “Fox News Primetime,” which replaced the one-hour newscast Martha MacCallum used to host in the time slot before the network made post-election changes. (MacCallum was moved to daytime.) Fox characterized the changes as normal; indeed, networks make a lot of changes at the beginning of the year.
Ben Domenech, Maria Bartiromo guest-hosted 'Primtetime'
For the last year or so a carousel of conservative personalities have taken turns hosting the hour.
Among them were Ben Domenech, Meghan McCain’s husband. If you’re wondering about the tenor of things, Domenench kicked off one of his hosting gigs with a rant about a “new American crisis” that included the following:
“Understand it is the totalitarian left that wants a national divorce. They want racial strife that burns down your cities. They want envy and segregation and division that pays for their million-dollar homes in Topanga Canyon. They want to demolish Mount Rushmore, make you pay for abortions, and force your daughters to compete in sports against men.”
Honestly, the question isn’t what country is he talking about. More like what planet? But this is what passes for intellectual discourse, I guess. At least among some people.
Maria Bartiromo, who has morphed from respected business reporter to full-on conspiracy-embracing Trump apologist, also hosted, but she has a Sunday show, so it was unlikely she’d get the job. Brian Kilmeade, co-host of “Fox & Friends,” the network’s morning show, also hosted.
Jesse Watters: 'I work at Fox. I want to see disarray on the left'
Watters worked for the disgraced Bill O’Reilly, garnering attention with man-on-the-street and ambush interviews.
Now he’s the star. It will be interesting, if nothing else. Watters goes so far with his rants that at times it's hard to take him seriously — hard to know even if he expects to be taken seriously. (His demeanor plays into this.)
And then he does something like he did earlier this month, saying more than he may have intended. Or not.
“Do I feel sorry for Joe Biden?” he asked on "The Five" in early January. “No. I work at Fox. I want to see disarray on the left. It’s good for America. It’s good for our ratings.”
“Jesse Watters Primetime” is scheduled to debut on Jan. 24.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Why Fox News' Jesse Watters is the perfect host for 'Primetime'