The Perfect Fox News Primetime Lineup
There’s a shakeup in Fox News world, and Rupert Murdoch’s sons James and Lachlan are tasked with saving the network as its biggest star gets pushed full-time into his new career of solving historical mysteries.
Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his 8 pm throne, his show rendered a non-“Factor,” his sacrosanct “No Spin Zone” turned into an Aussie roundabout. What will we do now? Where will the O’Reilly diehards go to learn our hero’s arbitrary opinions on culture? How will we figure out which assassination-themed book of his (co-authored with Martin Dugard) to flip through at the airport next? Who, dear God, will adopt Jesse Watters?
Fear not, Fox adherents! Change is the end result of all true learning, as Geraldo said. We will make it through this darkness together, stronger and more committed to the profitable demographics. We will build a new primetime lineup — sharper, wittier, more willing to let their guests talk. We will not abandon our John Boltons and our Sebastian Gorkas in the wilderness of half-empty split screens. We will staff up again and we will prevail!
We have only one chance to get this right, Murdochs, lest we go down in “Variety” as the Neville Chamberlains of primetime — or perhaps the Dick Cheneys leading us blindly into unfounded war (sorry, sore subject). We need the best:
7 PM: Maria Bartiromo
For years, Greta Van Susteren filled the 7 pm slot with her patented brand of scolding her guests and assuring viewers that stories were less interesting than they seemed. She was like the Fox ombudsman of sorts, walking things back and cooling tensions before the Irish-Catholic anger carnival of primetime. This slot is now filled by “The First 100 Days with Martha MacCallum,” which is a fine enough show but doesn’t have a name that suggests staying power. The Seven Spot is tricky, because it requires actual newscasting ability. There is only one contender for the job.
Maria Bartiromo. Hear me out.
She’s a studio player, stuck on Fox Business interviewing stock brokers. She’s been a presidential debate moderator. Her Wikipedia page shows her moderating a panel at the World Economic Forum. She was the subject of a Joey Ramone song. And even though she’s 49 she could still make any “30 Under 30” list, as far as this reviewer is concerned. But let’s cut the childishness here. She’s all substance.
In the words of Joey Ramone, “I watch you on the TV every single day.”
I’m sorry, Lachlan and James, but this one is non-negotiable.
8 PM: Tucker Carlson
This guy is already in the 8 PM slot, which is a logical move, considering he recently barnstormed his way through 7 and 9. He is also my longtime former boss at The Daily Caller, where he treated me alternately with compassion and condescension, generosity and mocking disdain. His subordinates existed merely to amuse him, to provide him with fleeting entertainment as he traipsed through his surreal life, and to suffer the brunt of his constant uncontrollable need to defeat and embarrass other people in debates. I recall, through the pain, a complicated man similar to the character Guy Grand from Terry Southern’s Magic Christian, described as “the last of the big spenders — determined to create disorder in the material world and willing to spare no expense to do it. Leading a life full of practical jokes and madcap schemes, his ultimate goal is to prove his theory that there is nothing so degrading or so distasteful that someone won’t do it for money.”
Is there a method to the deep pathological madness? No one will ever know. But one thing was clear to me in the years I worked for him, when he labored away for Roger Ailes on that inane weekend morning show, interviewing TV actors he’d never heard of and slipping Dostoyevsky references into cooking segments for the appreciation of no one…the man is very, very good at beating other people in debates. His current role on the network, finally, is the perfect needle for his addiction, so that he doesn’t have to end up on the side of the highway taunting sign-wielding vagabonds, “Do you really have any evidence that the world is ending? Where are you getting this from?”
He is a good man, a good Christian, a tireless crusader for intellectual honesty, and a Wasp who is far too self-aware to ever end up in the tabloids, let alone at a restaurant that plays Top 40 music. I am profoundly glad that he is now on primetime, where he clearly belongs, and where his ratings — quite literally — are kicking Jon Stewart’s ass.
9 PM: Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity deserves a lot of praise, and not just because he’s the only primetime host who’s ever had me on. Hannity genuinely believes in President Trump, and in so-called Trumpism.
Now don’t get me wrong. He’s not the type, like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter, to start criticizing Trump as he increasingly strays from the promised platform. And he also went pretty hard for George W. Bush during the Iraq War. “All in,” one might say. The memory of earnest Sean berating Pat Buchanan with his mimeographed White House talking points will not soon escape the memory of this populist. But the fact of the matter is, he got onboard the Trump Train from Day One, and that’s no small feat.
When I went to war as an investigative reporter against the Republican Establishment in the primaries, Hannity was always there to provide quotes, as he did in my classic Breitbart pieces “Exclusive – Sean Hannity Bludgeons Wall Street Journal Editor Bret Stephens As Arrogant Elitist” and “Sean Hannity Sides With Populist Nationalist Champions In Home Stretch of GOP Civil War.” Classics.
The guy is an enforcer, plugged into the movement, someone who actually dares to go against the grain in media and be a spokesman for the ideas that took over the popular imagination and won the election just a few months ago. He doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not when it comes to objectivity, and he doesn’t seem to hide the fact that he makes more money from radio than most former Eastern Bloc countries. He is, in his own spirited way, an American original. His contributions to the conservative movement — as that movement changes — keeps him relevant. He believes the same things I do, and that’s more than I could ever say about Megyn Kelly. And he never took any bull from Alec Baldwin.
10 PM: Gavin McInnes
By now, we’ve enjoyed a crisp and informative newscast from the beguiling and professional Maria Bartiromo. We’ve watched Tucker Carlson perform a Dartmouth College hazing ritual on Chuck Schumer’s intern. And we’ve been reminded with breathless urgency that the president has enemies and we need to join Sean Hannity in helping him. Now it’s time for the late night hour: 9 PM Central. If I’m going to keep watching this channel instead of South Park, I’m going to need some wild stuff right about now.
Gavin McInnes is a truth-teller. The co-founder of Vice magazine is usually only allowed on Fox on that early-hours Red Eye show. But he’s ready for primetime. Not in the traditional sense, no. But give him a polished sidekick. Honestly, put Dana Perino on 10 o’clock as Gavin’s co-host. I would watch that show. I’m in the 18-to-49 demo, and I’m telling you, Murdochs: I would watch the McInnes-Perino Hour. She can get the first and last word. Just let him talk throughout the rest of the show and train the camera on her facial expressions. That’s gold.
Look what Gavin McInnes told me about online political correctness after he was fired from his own advertising firm after he wrote a piece urging liberals to stop telling teenagers to get sex changes: “It’s just a culture of psychotic harassment. It’s fake hysteria. It’s not that dissimilar from the mob…It’s that college education has been ruined. If we lower the standards anybody can go. These colleges make up a class called Philosophy of Love. They’re actually dumber when they come out than when they went in. So you have these shrill college graduates 60 grand in debt and they’re terrified…That was what was so great about [Andrew] Breitbart. Norman Mailer would fight. So would Buckley.”
Here he is punching a guy outside The DeploraBall (see if you can spot Big League Politics reporter Cassandra Fairbanks in this clip):
11 PM: As it stands, this hour is just a re-play of 8 o’clock. As long as that means another Tucker, that’s fine with me. By this point, the viewers are fast asleep and the congressmen are doing coke with their interns. Get some rest, Murdochs, and tomorrow we’ll work on the morning lineup (Warning: It involves Don Imus).