Fox News and radio host Laura Ingraham have moved closer to a deal that could make the conservative talker a regular part of the news outlet’s primetime lineup, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The 21st Century Fox-owned cable network said in a statement Monday night that “there is no deal in place with Laura Ingraham at this time.”
The two sides have been in negotiations since at least August. If the discussions bear fruit, Ingraham could take up residency during the network’s 10 p.m. slot – a move that might set in motion a cascade of schedule changes. Sean Hannity, who has held forth at 10 p.m. for the last several years, could return to the 9 p.m. slot he once held. And “The Five,” a panel show that currently airs at 9 p.m., could return to its original time slot of 5 p.m. Fox News recently cancelled the show that had been airing at that time, “Fox News Specialists,” in the wake of its recent decision to part ways with one that show’s hosts, Eric Bolling.
Ingraham has a long association with Fox News, having served as a fill-in for both Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Executives at the network have remained open to the idea of tweaking its primetime lineup, Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy told Variety in July.
CNN previously reported Ingraham and Fox had struck a deal for her to start a job as a host in primetime.
Fox News remains cable’s most-watched news network, but in recent months has had to contend with a resurgent MSNBC, where a primetime lineup led by Rachel Maddow has expanded its audience. Fox News was surprised earlier this year by a the forced departure of primetime linchpin O’Reilly, who left the network after advertisers reacted negatively to disclosures of settlements paid to women who had accused him of sexual harassment and other improprieties. Discussions with Ingraham suggest Fox News executives have continued to mull tinkering with its program line-up.