Why can’t Fox News’s Megyn Kelly replace ‘Hannity’?

Megyn Kelly (Jon Vachon for The Washington Post)

Megyn Kelly (Jon Vachon for The Washington Post)

Megyn Kelly, who holds down the 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. slot at Fox News, has signed a new contract with the network, according to the New York Times’s Brian Stelter. The deal comes after the afternoon anchor had discussions with rival television news outfits. Loyalty to Fox News prevailed.

Despite having reported that the Washington Monument was tilting after the August 2011 earthquake — a mistake that the Erik Wemple Blog thinks about daily — Kelly serves as a commanding and genuine news anchor. She moderates debates with skill, not to mention that not-too-subtle rightward tilt so intrinsic to Fox’s dayside coverage. Her “Kelly’s Court” segments are a cable-news format-buster, drilling in on the country’s most twisted civil and criminal proceedings. Mark Eiglarsh, a Miami criminal defense attorney¬†and a frequent participant in these legal debates, is as compelling a cable news commentator as there is.

None of the foregoing, however, provides Kelly entree into the scheduling and contractual traffic jam of Fox News prime time, as the New York Times points out. The plum spots are taken by Bill O’Reilly (8 p.m.) and Sean Hannity (9 p.m.). Both of them kill it on the ratings front. Both of them recently re-upped with the network.

Fox News chief Roger Ailes takes great pride in the stability of Fox’s schedule, which has undergone very few changes in recent years. Even so, bumping “Hannity” in favor of a 9 p.m. Kelly-anchored production THIS VERY AFTERNOON would bring immeasurable improvements to the Fox product. Among them: Less shouting, less ridiculousness, less tendentiousness and more factual integrity, in spite of that Washington Monument thing.

That said, replacing Hannity with any of the following Foxers would accomplish the same thing, more or less: Jon Scott, Bill Hemmer, Martha MacCallum, Kirsten Powers, Steve Doocy (for real), Peter Doocy (kidding), Bob Beckel, Juan Williams, Andrea Tantaros, Greg Gutfeld, Dana Perino, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Jeanine Pirro, Shep Smith, Greta Van Susteren, Rick Folbaum, Harris Faulkner, or Geraldo.

Hannity gets the nod over Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade.

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