Jesse Watters named host of Fox News' 7 p.m. hour; will continue on 'The Five'

Erin Jensen
USA TODAY

Fox News' Jesse Watters has been named the permanent host for its 7 p.m. EST slot, the network announced Monday. He replaces replaces Martha MacCallum, the last full-time anchor to occupy the hour.

MacCallum hosted "The Story" before moving to a daytime perch exactly one year ago. Since then, a series of rotating Fox anchors, including Maria Bartiromo and Brian Kilmeade, have headed "Fox News Primetime," a news and opinion hybrid, as the hour became a bridge between the channel's daytime news programming and its primetime opinion content.

The 43-year-old Philadelphia native's "Jesse Watters Primetime" will launch Jan. 24. Watters will continue as a co-host of the network's "The Five," but his weekend program "Watters’ World" will end its Saturday run. (Fox News did not announce a replacement.)

“I’m thrilled to take on this new challenge and am grateful for the opportunity,” Watters said in a statement. 

Watters has risen in the ranks at the network, beginning as a production assistant in 2002. The following year, he made a splash with man-on-the-street interviews for "The O’Reilly Factor."

"Watters’ World" premiered in 2017, the same year the TV personality was appointed co-host of "The Five," the channel's afternoon panel show.

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"Jesse Watters Primetime" will debut Jan. 24 on Fox News.

Watters is not free from controversy. Earlier this month he said he welcomed chaos on "The Five." “Do I feel sorry for Joe Biden? No!" he said. "I work at Fox! I want to see disarray on the left! It’s good for America. It’s good for our ratings.”

In December, Watters ruffled feathers with remarks he made to a crowd at the conservative "AmericaFest" regarding Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Watters said that Fauci should be confronted on the subject of whether the National Institute of Health funded research at a lab in Wuhan, China, the city where the COVID-19 virus originated. He said an interviewer should suggest he lied about the topic – something Fauci has disputed.

“Now you go in for the kill shot, the kill shot with an ambush, deadly, because he doesn't see it coming,” Watters said. He suggested an interviewer say, “you know why people don't trust you, don't you?' Oh, he is dead. He's dead. He's done."

The interviewer should make sure the encounter is filmed and the footage given to conservative media, Watters said. It's a confrontation technique that has been used elsewhere in conservative politics by the group Project Veritas.

“Just make sure it's legal,” Watters said.

A partial clip of Watters' speech, beginning with the “kill shot” quote, went viral, spread around the internet, with some commentators suggesting that he had advocated assassinating Fauci. In a statement, Fox said “based on watching the full clip and reading the entire transcript, it's more than clear that Jesse Watters was using a metaphor for asking hard-hitting questions ... and his words have been twisted completely out of context.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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