On May 8, The Daily Beast reported that Fox News host and rumored Tucker Carlson successor Jesse Watters called for fellow Fox host Neil Cavuto to be fired, along with anchor Chris Wallace, who left the network in 2022, in texts with Carlson. Watters continued, “Need some fresh blood. Should hire some trump people.”
Cavuto and Wallace had both pushed back on the network’s airing and endorsement of Trump’s 2020 election lies, and Watters’ text likely came in response.
On November 9, 2020, on his program Your World, Cavuto started airing live footage of then-Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany as she spread the false claim that Democrats stole the 2020 election, but he quickly cut away, objecting.
“Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this,” he said. “I want to make sure that maybe they do have something to back that up. But that’s an explosive charge to make, that the other side is effectively rigging and cheating. If she does bring proof of that, of course, we’ll take you back.”
Cavuto signed off, reiterating this point: “If you have something to prove an outlandish charge, of something on the surface seems outlandish, by all means, share it with us and we’ll share it with the world. We are waiting."
Less than 7 minutes later, The Five took a different approach, with co-host Greg Gutfeld airing a video of the press conference in which McEnany stated, “The election is not over. Far from it. We have only begun the process of obtaining an accurate, honest vote count. We are fighting for the rights of all Americans who want to have faith and confidence, not only in this election, but in the many elections to come.”
Gutfeld asked then-co-host Juan Williams what he thought, and Williams replied that there was “no evidence” to McEnany’s claims and criticized Trump for refusing to concede. Watters then gave credence to election conspiracy theories by attacking the media for dismissing the Trump campaign’s intent to look into the supposed “irregularities, abnormalities.”
“They have people signing sworn affidavits saying people are forging signatures. People are changing and backdating ballots. Hey, investigate it,” Watters continued.
Per the Daily Beast report, Watters texted Carlson a few days later: “Wallace Cavuto and other have got to go. Need some fresh blood. Should hire some trump people.”
The Daily Beast also reported that Carlson texted Watters attacking Fox correspondent Jacqui Heinrich. “This girl apparently works for us in the ‘news’ division, though I'd be stunned if she's ever broken a story,” Carlson wrote. “She was on Twitter last night calling out Hannity, and accusing Trump of planning to ‘steal’ the election. Can’t continue.” (Carlson and Fox’s Sean Hannity had also called for Fox to fire Heinrich after she fact-checked a Trump tweet.)
Since the texts were sent, Fox has indeed added additional “Trump people” to its lineup.
Watters himself was promoted, bringing his pompous schtick and cavalier attitude toward the truth to prime time. Despite being mocked by a Fox personality during the election as being a Trump propagandist, McEnany was not only hired as a Fox News personality but has since co-hosted The Five eight times, according to Media Matters’ internal database, and is currently hosting Fox News Tonight at Carlson’s former time slot. And the network continued to fill its ranks with Trump associates, including daughter-in-law Lara Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, and counselor Kellyanne Conway.
Carlson’s recent firing leaves Fox’s brand in disrepair, and rumors are circling over which personality will fill the gaping hole of extremism he left. Watters has been floated as his replacement, and these texts make clear that he would bring a comparable perspective to the 8 p.m. slot.