Juan Williams, the lone dissenter on the conservative program, is stepping down from his co-host spot. He announced his departure on Wednesday afternoon’s broadcast. His exit is effective immediately.
Fox says another liberal commentator will take his place, however, and says the change is Williams’ choice.
“Covid taught me a lot of lessons,” Williams told viewers on Wednesday. “As the show goes back to the New York studio, I’ll be staying in DC. I’ll be working for Fox out of Washington. My work as a Fox News political analyst will continue.”
It is rare to see a cable news host like Williams voluntarily leave a hosting job, but Williams is a unique case. He is a rare Democratic commentator in a sea of Republicans. He is not a favorite of the Fox base, to put it mildly.
On Twitter and other social platforms, conservative viewers cheered Williams’ departure and said the show would be much improved without him.
His exit comes at a time when Fox has tamped down on dissenting views by reducing the prominence of Democratic-leaning voices on the air.
But “The Five” has had a liberal talking head since its founding ten years ago. And Fox says that will continue: The program will include rotating liberal co-hosts until a liberal replacement for Williams is named.
Likely co-hosts during the interim period include Geraldo Rivera, Jessica Tarlov, and a recent hire by Fox, Harold Ford Jr.
Before the pandemic, Williams commuted to New York to co-host “The Five” in person while living in Washington with his family.
The coronavirus forced a shift to socially distanced programming, and Williams was able to join the program remotely, sometimes by utilizing a television broadcasting truck that would pull up outside his home.
“The Five” attempted a return to the studio late last year, but when Williams tested positive for Covid-19, the program reverted to remote studios. Other co-hosts like Jesse Watters beamed in from their homes.
Now, as the pandemic recedes in the United States, television news and talk shows are gradually returning to their normal studios.
“As we started planning The Five’s return to its New York City studio at our headquarters a few months ago, Juan decided to stay in Washington, DC permanently,” the vice president in charge of the show, Megan Albano, said in a statement.
“We accommodated his request, understanding and appreciating his desire to remain closer to his family and recognizing that a remote co-hosting role on a roundtable in-studio program was not a long-term option,” Albano said. “While we will miss his insightful contributions each night and look forward to welcoming him on set whenever he’s in New York, we are pleased to have him continue his longtime role as a senior political analyst with FOX News Media.”
The analyst role means that he will continue to show up across Fox’s programs when invited to appear. Dana Perino, one of the other hosts of “The Five” who also helms “America’s Newsroom” earlier in the day, said on Wednesday’s farewell that she expected to interact Williams on her show.