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June 26, 2023

FOX News to move Philly-native Jesse Watters to primetime slot

The conservative has said his hometown is 'crawling with people high on tranq,' accused Sen. Fetterman of wanting to castrate children and proclaimed he is the Eagles' good luck charm

Media Jesse Watters
jesse watters fox Source/FOX News

Next month, Philly native Jesse Watters will take over FOX News’ 8 p.m. time slot, which previously belonged to Tucker Carlson.

FOX News is shaking up its primetime lineup by placing Jesse Watters, the cable network's conservative commentator who grew up in Philadelphia, in its 8 p.m. time slot. "Jesse Watters Primetime" takes over the news hour formerly held by Tucker Carlson, who hosted the popular "Tucker Carlson Tonight" before being ousted at the company this April.

The new lineup — with "The Ingraham Angle" at 7 p.m., "Hannity" at 9 p.m. and "Gutfield!" at 10 p.m. in addition to Watters' show — kicks off July 17, the network announced Monday. 

“FOX News Channel has been America’s destination for news and analysis for more than 21 years and we are thrilled to debut a new lineup,” said FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott. “The unique perspectives of Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, and Greg Gutfeld will ensure our viewers have access to unrivaled coverage from our best-in-class team for years to come.”

Watters' show launched in the 7 p.m. slot last year and averages over 2 million viewers. He will also continue appearing on FOX's 5 p.m. roundtable program "The Five." 

Carlson was driven out of FOX after the network settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems, which sued FOX for false claims made about 2020 election fraud, for $787 million. After Carlson's exit, reports of a misogynist and anti-Semitic workplace on his show surfaced, including a lawsuit claiming gender and religious discrimination, unequal pay and failing to accommodate for disabilities. FOX has remained the top-rated cable channel but has suffered historically low ratings.

Watters grew up in Germantown and East Falls, and through 11th grade he attended William Penn Charter School where his father was director of the middle school. Watters' mother is a child psychologist whose family was in the publishing business — her father was publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and her grandfather was publisher of The Saturday Evening Post.

Watters and family moved to Long Island for his senior year of high school when he father took a new job. He would graduate from Trinity College in Connecticut in 2001 and joined FOX News as a production assistant in 2002.

Within a year, he became a correspondent on "The O'Reilly Factor," working through the network's ranks and making a name for himself with man-on-the-street segments, including the infamous 2016 segment in which he walked around New York's Chinatown asking interviewees racist questions and demeaning elderly passersby. In 2017, Watters took a brief hiatus after receiving pushback for comments he made about Ivanka Trump that some viewed as lewd, as well as began publicly sharing pushback he's received from family members with the debut of a "The Five" segment called "Mom Texts."

The same year, Watters was at the center of a dispute between FOX News and Saint Joseph's University, which said the network left out important context when reporting on comments about Donald Trump made by communication studies professor Dave Parry; Watters interviewed St. Joe's students about the comments and was said to have misrepresented essential details in his TV report.

In 2021, Watters drew rebuke for his speech at Turning Point USA's AmericaFest conservative convention in Phoenix. He urged a young audience to "ambush" U.S. infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and deliver a metaphorical "kill shot" that would expose Fauci's lack of transparency in the nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fauci, in turn, urged FOX News to cut ties with him, but the network downplayed the host's aggressive language.

Last year, Watters received criticism for a segment about Sen. John Fetterman, in which he said the Pennsylvania Democrat "is for castrating kindergartners."

Earlier this month, Watters ranted about Philadelphia and the city's opioid crisis, making misleading comments in a piece about New York City rolling out vending machines that dispense the opioid-overdose antidote Narcan. Philadelphia install similar vending machines earlier this year, and Watters said:

"Of all the things that this city needs, free crack pipes aren't it. Philly just installed these junkie vending machines. Have you seen Philly lately? The city's crawling with people high on tranq. It's this deadly sedative junkies mix with heroin and cocaine. It's turned the city into 'The Walking Dead.'"

Watters showed support for his hometown Eagles during their Super Bowl appearance last season, calling himself "an Eagles good luck charm" and later lamenting their loss.

He now lives with his wife and children in a $2.8 million mansion in Bernardsville, Somerset County, after moving out of his Manhattan rental in February. He has also owned expensive property at the Jersey Shore, including an oceanfront vacation home in Beach Haven, Long Beach Island, which he listed for nearly $2 million last fall.

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