OPINION: Is Tomi Lahren Good or Bad For Fox News?

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Tomi Lahren, who left Glenn Beck’s The Blaze under well publicized circumstances made her first appearance on Hannity on FOX News Channel this Wednesday Night.  According to FOX, Lahren will have a key role on the network’s upcoming digital lineup and will also offer political commentary to the network’s opinion programming, primarily “Hannity.”

Lahren is best known for her time at Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, where she hosted the self-titled show “Tomi.” She would end each show with her “Final Thoughts” segment, in which she would expound on political and pop culture topics. She was suspended by TheBlaze earlier this year after expressing her support for abortion on “The View,” leading to a lawsuit against her former employer that was settled in May.

However, that didn’t stop Lahren from posting her views on social media, strengthening her brand and audience. Now, Lahren has a larger audience of loyal FOX viewers and FOX now has another popular conservative name to add to their depleted roster. In addition, Lahren will continue to grow her online presence, while sharing FOX’s content to her personal page, strengthening FOX’s brand with the younger, republican audience. This is a win, win situation for both Lahren and FOX.

It is undeniable that FOX News Channel’s current Primetime lineup is almost unrecognizable compared to what it was just a few years ago. Sean Hannity remains the only primetime holdover, after O’Reilly was dismissed for a number of reasons. While the network remains the most watched network on basic cable, “Hannity” lost out to “the Rachel Maddow show” in the August ratings recently released. The Tucker Carlson show is now 3rd behind both Maddow and Hannity, after being number 1 in the overall ratings in just 2 months ago in June. Gone from Fox are Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Greta Van Susteren.  It’s still “Your World” with Neil Cavuto at 5. “Special Report” is still at 6, but now hosted by Bret Baier. Brit Hume, Ed Henry and some other contributors are still recognizable, but it’s apparent Fox is going through what is known in the sports world as a rebuilding season.

FOX is working with one of the largest built-in audiences. If only for the fact that there are few alternatives for ”fair and balanced” (conservative) news on television. The question is, HOW will they rebuild?

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Right now, it seems like they’re going with an organic rebuild model and promoting from within the ranks of FOX, as the Daytime and late-night talent have migrated closer to primetime, most notably members of “The Five” going straight into the 9PM slot. But rebuilding does come with its challenges as “The Five” Veteran, Eric Bolling, who was given his own show is currently suspended pending an investigation into allegations made against Bolling. “The Story” with Martha MacCallum is posting solid numbers as it should, but is by no means a game-changer for the network.

The move to add Lahren to the roster may symbolize a change in strategy or at the least a modification, by adding in some talent from outside, with their own built-in audience and a brand name.

Watching Laura Ingraham right now on the replay of the Tucker Carlson show. Seems to me, the average Fox News watcher(intermittently watching 1-3 hours/day throughout the day/evening/latenight), that she may be being groomed for a move from contributor to Host as the network continues to scramble for brand name help to salvage their once great ratings dominance. A google search reveals that Variety broke this story 2 weeks ago. Reporting that sources have revealed the network and Ingraham have entered into talks but would not divulge that any specifics such as time slot had been discussed. Good for you Variety. I’m still not going to read you, but that’s good work to answer my curiosity.

Laura Ingraham does have her own nationally syndicated radio show which makes her fit into the same mold as Lahren in that they both have a brand name among the networks conservative base, but with Ingraham’s past experience filling in for both Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly her ability to step in and host sooner rather than later could, provide for at least a short term gap to help the network’s floundering ratings rebound.

It will be interesting to see how the more mature FOX audience responds to Lahren’s arrival. However, I think one thing is for sure – for better or worse, bringing on Lahren marks a new strategy for FOX. They will recruit young, talented media personalities with large digital and social presences.