The Sunday Conversation: Greg Gutfeld
Greg Gutfeld, 47, is the host of Fox News Channel’s late-night news and humor chatfest, “Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld.” In July, the New York-based TV personality began helming “The Five,” a daily round table that replaced departed host Glenn Beck’s show.
Let’s start with your surprising career arc from men’s magazine editor to Fox News personality.
I was a magazine guy. I worked at Men’s Health, where I like to think I wrote all the great ab lines, like “Lose your gut.” I think that was me. And “Six-pack abs in six minutes.” I wrote that as well, I think. Totally impossible, by the way, to get six-pack abs in six minutes. But it’s still poetry.
But you had some pretty spectacular flame-outs when you were a men’s magazine editor, didn’t you?
What are you referring to?
What happened was I was invited to speak at a conference on how to generate buzz. I had originally turned it down because I thought, if you need to go to a conference on buzz, you won’t be able to generate buzz. You’re hopeless. I realized that was a bad idea, so I called them back up, and they said, “We’ve already filled it with a guy from Maxim.” And I was at Stuff, and we were sister publications at Dennis [Publishing], and I was kind of ticked off. So instead I bought tickets for seats at the conference, and I filled them with three little people. And they brought in clipboards with cellphones and they set them on vibrate. So when their phones went off on the clipboards, they would make the buzzing noise. So in a way I was showing everyone at the conference how to generate buzz. And then a month later, I was promoted to director of brand development for Stuff. But it was obviously a “promotion” promotion. They sent me to an Oakwood apartment in Beverly Hills. It was a lost year. I was jogging on Sunset and getting drunk most of the time. But it was worth it. I ended up back at Maxim U.K., so they hired me again, which was weird.
Why did you want to go from the top of the men’s magazine world to Fox News?
I loved Fox News. I’d been on a couple of times, and I found it refreshing. Before Fox News, what was there? There was this terrible sameness — all the same faces with the same assumptions about America’s place in the world. The news was deliberately obscuring another perspective, and it was one that reflected reality in my mind and who I was, and the gap between what was real and what was on the news, I thought, was huge. And FNC at least for me filled that gap.
What do you have to say to critics of Fox News who regard it as a tool of the right wing?
I always love questions like that, because no one ever says, “I don’t like Fox News.” They say, “What do you say to the critics?” In the old days, major media was outrageously liberal, but they owned all the players on the teams, they owned the ball, they owned the stadium. And when Fox News shows up to play, everyone else wants to take the ball and go home. You hear nothing but whining about Fox News because they’re kicking everybody’s butt. And I love that. The people who whine about Fox News are hypocrites — they say they’re totally tolerant, but when they run into someone who doesn’t share their assumptions, they say, “Fox News is evil, and it must be stopped.”
You had quite a cyber tiff last month with Adam Levine, when he tweeted that he wanted Fox News to stop playing his music.
I have to say that Adam Levine is truly a daring young man to go on Twitter to bash Fox News. He’s so rebellious, so subversive. I mean, for a musician, seriously, could you find a more predictable stance than that? He’s as edgy as a hacky sack, which also describes his music. So I went on there basically to lower the bar of discourse. If he’s going to rag on Fox News, I’m going to make stupid jokes about him.
You wrote for the Huffington Post in the early years, including a mini cartoon series making fun of Arianna Huffington. You essentially called her a hypocrite for not paying writers. How did you get away with that?
I was pretty much their first blogger, because I was blogging from England and my posts showed up hours earlier than everybody else. Once I got in there, it was impossible for Arianna to get me out of there because I was fun mold. If you removed me, the HuffPo became boring and I think Arianna knew that. If I wasn’t there, the Huffington Post probably would have collapsed under its own self-seriousness.
Do you have a hard time getting big names on the show?
Not really, because I don’t actively look for them. I love having musicians on. I get bands that I love, and they’re often not bands other people love.My two favorite bands are now Black Moth Super Rainbow — we had them on — and then Torch, which is this great metal band I love, and we’ve had them on. I like being an apostle for music.
But in terms of celebrities, I don’t care what they think on issues. And “Red Eye” is a topic-driven show. Celebrities tend to live in a plastic bubble all their lives, and suddenly in their late 20s, when they’ve made all their money they feel really guilty because they’re incredibly wealthy. Also they feel vacuous, so they latch onto easy causes like the environment. Even worthy causes, but they attach themselves to them superficially. They actually hurt the causes that they join. I think they lead a stunted existence, where they didn’t go through the normal intellectual growth that everybody else has.
“The Five,” which you started helming in July, replaced Glenn Beck. How has that changed your network profile, and how are you guys approaching the gig differently?
The thing about “The Five” is that it works. It’s kind of neat when something takes off organically. Put five people with strong personalities in a room to talk about stuff that happened that day. Glenn Beck had a single powerful perspective, but there are five of us, so it makes it maybe a little more unpredictable, more of a delicious mess. And they’re also amazingly beautiful people, which helps. I have the greatest job — I sit next to Dana Perino, across from Kimberly Guilfoyle and I get to raise [Democratic consultant and Fox commentator] Bob Beckel’s blood pressure. I try to turn his face into a red state.
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