Fox News hires Laura Ingraham to host primetime show

In taking on Ingraham, Fox News is betting on Trump-style populism

Published September 18, 2017 6:45PM (EDT)


After weeks of speculation, Fox News announced Monday that the network is hiring Laura Ingraham to host a nightly commentary show.

The Ingraham hire is noteworthy in that it signals that the news channel is betting on a more populist brand of conservatism, as opposed to the more elitist flavor favored by Republicans prior to the emergence of Donald Trump on the political scene in 2015.

Ingraham's program will air at 10pm Eastern Time, following shows hosted by Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, both of whom generally align themselves with the president's politics. Both Carlson and Ingraham were some of the earliest right-leaning commentators to express support for Trump during the GOP presidential primaries.

The addition of Ingraham to the network's prime-time lineup marks the first time in Fox News history that two of its high-profile evening shows will be hosted by women. Martha MacCallum currently anchors "The Story" at 7pm Eastern Time.

Ingraham has been a fixture on Fox News since 2007, when she was hired to do a weekly segment called "The Ingraham Angle" on the former program of Bill O'Reilly, Fox News' former star who was ousted from the network in April. Ingraham's new show will bear the same name as her old segment.

“Martha, Tucker and Sean have proven that they understand the pulse of America across the political and the cultural spectrum," Ingraham said in a statement. "I look forward to informing and entertaining the audience and introducing new voices to the conversation.”

Ingraham has hosted a talk radio show since 2001 and will continue to do so, according to Fox News representatives. Though not as well-known as other right-wing radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage, Ingraham has attracted her share of controversy for making offensive statements directed towards certain groups, particularly Muslims.

In June, she claimed in a segment on "Fox and Friends" that Europeans were risking their lives by allowing Muslim immigrants and refugees into the continent.

"Now the price they have to pay for multiculturalism is the risk that you're walking on the sidewalk and a man will -- or a woman, will purposefully mow you down," she said. "And then while you're maybe finishing your cappuccino in a cafe, or having a drink, someone will put a knife to your throat and slit it with the attempt, perhaps, to behead you."

Ingraham has also taken criticism for her views on sexual minorities. In 1997, her former faculty adviser at Dartmouth College claimed that "she went so far as to avoid a local eatery where she feared the waiters were homosexual."

Ingraham has since reversed or clarified some of her positions on homosexuality. After her brother Curtis came out as gay, Ingraham claimed to support domestic partnership arrangements.

Ingraham remains resolutely opposed to transgender rights, however. Last year, during the debate over gendered bathrooms, Ingraham promoted the myth that straight men would seek to use restroom facilities for women, and sarcastically said that "everyone" would start wearing sanitary garments instead of using public toilets.

"I think a lot of people are going to be walking around with just Depends on from now on," she said. "They're just not going to use the bathroom. Adult diapers, diapers for everybody."

The announcement of Ingraham's television landing puts an end to speculation surrounding her career. Columnist Matt Drudge had been promoting the idea of a Fox News show for Ingraham for some time without effect. Last month, the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard reported that Ingraham was considering running against Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018. Ingraham was also floated as a possible press secretary to President Trump before he took office.

While known for her staunchly right-wing viewpoints, Ingraham has occasionally commingled with people from outside her ideological spectrum — such as when she dated former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann.

By Matthew Sheffield

Matthew Sheffield is a national correspondent for The Young Turks. He is also the host of the podcast "Theory of Change." You can follow him on Twitter.

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