It can be a tricky business when the original host of a news program leaves, no matter what the reason. Now that Gretchen Carlson has left her Fox News show, The Real Story, we have some idea of how it's doing without her.
According to The Wrap, Gretchen Carlson's version of The Real Story averaged 1.7 million viewers and 292,000 in the show's main demo of adults 25 to 54. In the two weeks since Carlson left on June 23, the show is up 11 percent in viewership and 21 percent in the demo. Those numbers are compared to the last two weeks that Carlson spent hosting the program. The show had its highest rated week ever during the week of July 4. June saw Carlson's program lose to CNN in the key demo, and also had the narrowest of victories over CNN of any Fox News show for the second quarter of this year. The higher viewership numbers for The Real Story helped the Fox News Channel end last week as the number one channel among all cable networks in total day viewers and primetime.
Gretchen Carlson started as the host of The Real Story when the program began in September 2013. She began her broadcasting career in local news and then came to prominence as a co-anchor on CBS' Saturday Early Show. In 2006 Carlson filled an open anchor spot on Fox & Friends, leaving in 2013 for The Real Story.
Unfortunately, Gretchen Carlson didn't leave Fox on good terms, and the controversy surrounding her departure could have easily led to the uptick in viewers. On the morning of July 6 Carlson sent out a tweet confirming that she was no longer with the Fox News Channel. That same day, she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former Fox News boss Roger Ailes. Her suit claims that she refused Ailes' sexual advances and was let go from the network as a direct result of that action. A statement from Ailes states that Carlson was simply let go because the ratings for her show were so low that they were contributing to the decline in ratings for the network's other shows in the afternoon lineup.
The Wrap notes that since Gretchen Carlson's suit was filed last Wednesday, the higher viewership and demo numbers also account for two days last week before the sexual harassment controversy could have, possibly, helped those numbers hit a new high. There's no doubt, though, that a well-publicized scandal can certainly help a show gain viewers as people tune in to see how things shake out in the aftermath. The Real Story has been filling Carlson's seat with a series of guest hosts, and it's incredibly likely that some people watched not just to see who would be replacing her, but also to see if they liked any of those hosts better or worse than Carlson.