Brian Kilmeade took over the time slot formerly occupied by the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show on Fox on Monday, hosting the first episode of “Fox News Tonight,” in which Kilmeade briefly addressed Carlson’s shock departure from the network.
Kilmeade, who co-hosts the “Fox & Friends” program, was the first in what’s expected to be a series of temporary fill-ins for Carlson’s former show during the 8 p.m. ET time slot until a permanent replacement is found.
“As you probably have heard, Fox News and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” Kilmeade said at the top of the new program. “I wish Tucker the best. I’m great friends with Tucker and always will be. But right now, it’s time for ‘Fox News Tonight,’ so let’s get started.”
Fox announced Carlson’s exit in a statement Monday, saying that the network and Carlson “have agreed to part ways,” adding, “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”
Carlson’s final Fox News show was on Friday, April 21, during which he gave no indication that it would be his final appearance on the network.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned company said that it would fill the 8 p.m. time slot formerly occupied by “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with a rotation of hosts until a new one is named.
While it’s unclear what led to Carlson’s departure, he once said that there was a “constant assault” of “never-ending” efforts to get his show canceled.
“Trust me, it’s a constant assault. It’s a never-ending effort to take us off the air,” Carlson told Variety in 2020.
Carlson was Fox News Channel’s most-watched primetime host, with possible candidates for a permanent replacement including Kilmeade, Jesse Watters, Laura Ingraham, Maria Bartiromo, and Sean Hannity.
Hannity, whose eponymous 9 p.m. ET show on Fox follows Carlson’s former time slot, said on his 3 p.m. syndicated radio program “The Sean Hannity Show” on Monday that he was surprised by Carlson’s departure.
“It’s very hard,” Hannity said at the start of his show in regards to Carlson’s exit. “My phone has been blowing up all day. The hard part for me is I don’t have a clue… I have no idea. Was it Tucker’s decision? Was it Fox’s? Was it a mutual agreement that they had? I don’t know.”
By Tom Ozimek