Well placed sources within the Fox News Channel have told the Drudge Report that conservative star Sean Hannity will be bumped from his primetime 9 p.m. hour on Monday to Friday to make way for fellow Fox host Megyn Kelly, currently out on maternity leave.
The battle of the two conservative Irish American hosts will be a major feature of the Fox schedule this year as Kelly becomes the “It” girl for Fox.
Hannity, a darling of the conservative movement who also hosts his own syndicated daily three hour radio show, has helmed his self-named program on Fox since 2009.
Hannity and the rest of Fox News stars like Bill O’Reilly have propelled the network to the top of the ratings, but since President Obama’s re-election the numbers have trended downward, with Hannity’s show reportedly losing 35 percent of its audience earlier this year compared to the previous 12 months.
On Thursday the Drudge Report, always well-disposed to Fox News, revealed, “Superstar newswoman Megyn Kelly has landed the 9 p.m. slot, top sources reveal. The shock announcement is set for later this month. ‘It’s all about Megyn,’ an insider explains. ‘She is the new face of cable news. She has it all!’”
Most of the Fox News stars have long-term contracts in place that tie them to the network for several years, so it’s unclear where Hannity will land if, as widely expected, the Drudge scoop is correct.
Speculation is that he could replace Greta Van Susteren at 10 p.m., or that he could move to the 7 p.m. slot.
Fox News chairman Roger Ailes refused to confirm or deny the speculation surrounding his network, which despite the ratings dip remains the top rated cable news channel in the country.
“Generally, I don’t confirm or deny any rumors, and that is a rumor at the moment,” Ailes said at a 21st Century Fox conference in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“Hannity is a brand that many of our viewers love and want to see, and, as you know, is one of the nicest guys in the building.”
Kelly is expected to take the Hannity slot when she returns from maternity leave next month. A 42-year-old graduate of Albany Law School in New York, she is one of Fox’s most popular stars and has been pulling huge ratings with her afternoon news show “America Live.”
"Megyn has earned a better time slot,” Ailes said on Thursday.