Like many armchair pundits, I predicted doom and gloom for Fox News when the network brass decided to part ways with Bill O'Reilly. Not because of one host's ability to make or break a network, but because of bone-headed programming decisions, such as moving "The Five to 9 o'clock" and replacing it with a new less-than-groundbreaking show with a less-than-enticing title, "The Fox News Specialists"-- which I predicted on April 30 would be a complete dud.

And now that Fox News has finished third in the ratings behind CNN and MSNBC for the first time in seventeen years, according to Hollywood Reporter, I think those of us who tried to sound the alarm are entitled to gloat just a little bit.

This tastes familiar

Back on April 30 I called out the network's head of programming, Suzanne Scott, and accused her of something I like to call "the Taco Bell syndrome." There are only so many different ways you can put together a tortilla, cheese, and ground beef before it all starts to taste the same; after a while, it becomes nearly impossible to come up with new and distinct menu items.

The same concept applies to Fox News with its never-changing repertory of stock characters. Turn to FNC at any given time, and you're likely to see a show hosted, co-hosted or guest hosted by the same folks: Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greg Gutfeld, Eric Bolling, Kat Timpf and, or course, Greg Gutfeld.

Why did I mention Greg Gutfeld three times? Because he's on all the time, that's why. At this point, I'm beginning to suspect that he might live in the studio. The next time the camera pans away for a commercial break, try to peek beneath his desk. You'll probably find a hot plate, a pile of junk mail and a My Pillow under there.

This is what I call "network inbreeding"-- the attempt to create an entirely new show out of the same handful of personalities who ask the same predictable questions to the same handful of guests. This explains why Tucker Carlson has risen to the top of the Fox News ladder-- he came from outside the gene pool.

Trump's troubles have nothing to do with plummeting ratings

Some media critics, such as Breitbart News, claim that the network's downward spiral is due to recent Trump-related developments. "CNN and MSNBC enjoyed a surge in viewership thanks to a chaotic news week for President Donald Trump’s administration," wrote Breitbart's Ben Kew on Monday. This, however, makes no sense.

For instance, why would long-time viewers suddenly get the urge to change the channel simply because of a rough week for President Trump? The same phenomenon has never happened in reverse: MSNBC never had a sharp rating decline whenever the Obama administration had a tough week, and people didn't abandon CNN in droves whenever Hillary's campaign hit a pothole.

If anything, Fox News viewership should have increased amid the string of scandalous leaks about Russian collusion and the firing of James Comey.

The left-leaning rival networks all somehow managed to cram 25 hours of anti-Trump coverage into a 24-hour news cycle. Even the biggest Bernie Sanders and Maxine Waters fans would have wanted to flip over to a different channel at some point, just to catch a breather from the endless repetition of Democrat talking points.

Listening to someone like Katy Tur or Stephanie Ruhle drone on and on about Trump calling Comey a nutjob is like listening to a group of tone-deaf Benedictine monks singing a 30-minute long Gregorian chant in the wrong key. Sooner or later, most of us would rather hit ourselves in the head with a ball-peen hammer.

No, the reason why Fox News is lagging behind the competition is that the programming, thanks to Suzanne Scott, has become as stale as Cheetoh behind a couch cushion and as predictable as an Amish fashion forecast.

The next time Murdoch's programming geniuses want to create a new show, don't give us another refried beef and bean Bolling burrito with Gutfeld and Guilfoyle guacamole. Give us something new and different. Rumor has it Sean Spicer might be available soon, and who wouldn't want to tune into an episode of "Spice, Spice Baby?"

Better yet, tap into the rapidly-growing reservoir of conservative talent and give us someone like Lucian Wintrich or Mike Cernovich. Provide us with the intelligent insights of Ben Shapiro, the irreverence of Steven Crowder.

Or, if none of them are available, there's always me. While my hair may not be as lustrous as Tucker Carlson's, my wit, snark and prescient observations can be had at a fraction of what you're paying Greg Gutfeld or Kat Timpf. Think it over, Suzanne, and get back to me.