Fox News is in talks to shift its primetime lineup again following the suspension of a top personality who is accused of sexually harassing colleagues.
“Fox News Specialists” host Eric Bolling was suspended earlier this month following allegations that he sent unsolicited photos of male genitalia to colleagues at Fox Business Network and Fox News.
The suspension sparked questions about the future of “Specialists” and whether Fox would take steps to bolster the 5 p.m. time slot, and late on Monday, CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that conservative pundit Laura Ingraham was in serious discussions t0 join Fox News’ primetime lineup.
Earlier Monday, Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge, who has repeatedly broken major news about the Fox News lineup over the past year, alluded to Ingraham’s potential spot in primetime.
FALL PREVIEW: Laura Ingraham's prime time to shine! After years in the trenches, much deserved. pic.twitter.com/dW3iwSHm2H
— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) August 14, 2017
It remains unclear what time a show with Ingraham would air, though rumors have swirled within the network about several potential scenarios.
Two sources familiar with the situation told Business Insider the lineup was up in the air but many suspected “The Five” would move back to its old 5 p.m. slot, bumping “Fox News Specialists” and making way for Ingraham to occupy the 9 p.m. slot, where “The Five” moved earlier this year. Ingraham’s show could also air at 10 p.m., moving host Sean Hannity into the 9 p.m. slot.
The lineup changes remain in flux in part because of Bolling’s uncertain future at the company.
Though cohosts Eboni Williams and Kat Timpf were regulars on “Fox News Specialists,” Bolling was the most familiar face on the show to many viewers. He had served as a host on “The Five” and also hosted his own weekend show and filled in for other primetime Fox shows.
An outside law firm retained by 21st Century Fox last year to look into harassment at Fox News is investigating the claims against Bolling.
A shake-up would be the third major shift in Fox News’ primetime lineup in a year.
In January, Tucker Carlson replaced the 9 p.m. show hosted by Megyn Kelly, who left for NBC. Then the lineup shifted again in April after Bill O’Reilly left amid sexual-harassment allegations, bumping Carlson into O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. slot and moving “The Five” to 9 p.m. from 5 p.m.
In a testament to the loyalty of Fox News’ audience, the network’s ratings largely haven’t reflected any significant turbulence, though they have dipped across the board compared with last summer.
Carlson still hasn’t managed to match O’Reilly’s numbers, averaging 2.2 million nightly viewers in July compared with O’Reilly’s 3.1 million in the same month last year during the highly watched Democratic National Convention and Republican National Conventions. But Carlson’s numbers barely dipped in the second quarter of 2017 compared with 2016, and Hannity’s ratings were far higher in the second quarter of 2017 compared with 2016.
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.