Laura Ingraham joins Fox News as host

Cable channels switches up evening lineup for 3rd time

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Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham will join Fox News Channel’s prime-time lineup as a host on Oct. 30, the network announced Sept. 18.

Ingraham, a longtime contributor to Fox News, will be the weeknight host of “The Ingraham Angle,” at 10 p.m. ET. Sean Hannity on Sept. 25 will move to 9 p.m., replacing “The Five,” which will return to its 5 p.m. slot.

Conservative firebrand Hannity will now go head-to-head with ideological opposite Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

The 5 p.m. hour had been filled by “Fox News Specialists,” but the program was canceled Sept. 8 after host Eric Bolling was fired amid sexual harassment allegations, which he has denied.

The anticipated lineup change is the third this year for Fox News, which long had been known for the stability of its schedule. However, sexual harassment investigations have taken out two hosts — Bolling and prime-time star Bill O’Reilly.

In January, the network also moved Tucker Carlson into the 9 p.m. time period to replace the departing Megyn Kelly, who starts a new show next week on NBC. Carlson’s program moved to 8 p.m. in April to replace O’Reilly when he departed.

Ingraham has been a fixture at Fox News since 2007, once serving as one of the few substitutes for O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor.” She was earning close to $2 million a year as a contributor. Her salary as a full-time host is likely to be a multiple of that.

Ingraham’s solid following among conservative viewers is expected to maintain Fox News’ ratings levels, which have remained strong despite the disruption to the lineup. The network is still the most-watched cable news channel in overall viewers and the advertiser-favored age group of 25- to 54-year-olds.

Year-to-date Fox News is averaging 2.5 million viewers in prime time, up 10 percent from 2016, which was its best year ever. In the 25- to 54-year-old demographic, it’s up 16 percent.

Ingraham, 54, will continue hosting her syndicated radio program. She will also remain editor of LifeZette, the politics and culture website she founded two years ago, although without a day-to-day operational role.

Meanwhile, Fox News and its parent company 21st Century Fox were hit with another sexual harassment lawsuit Monday. Political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes has accused Fox Business Network host Charles Payne of raping her in July 2013. She said she was coerced into a sexual relationship with Payne to keep getting appearances on the network, which she believed would lead to a job as a commentator at Fox News.

Hughes’ suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, said her opportunities at the network stopped after the relationship ended in 2016 and she tried to bring the allegations to the attention of Fox News management.