In her new memoir, The Light Within Me, which is out today, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt writes about an encounter with Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The two had briefly crossed paths once before in the Fox News headquarters, but it was no more than a quick “hello.”
This particular encounter was a bit longer, and took place minutes before candidate Trump would take the stage for a town hall in Wisconsin. Earhardt had previously put in a request for an interview with Trump. He agreed, and upon seeing Earhardt, remarked that he was proud of her, before saying: “Congratulations on the success of Fox & Friends, I hear your ratings are up 33 percent.”
People’s opinions of Fox News’s signature morning show are strong and varied, but as Trump noted in the summer of 2016, the show’s ratings speak for themselves.
Fox & Friends, co-hosted by the trio of Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy, averaged more than 1.5 million total viewers in Q1 2018, far more than its timeslot competition. April 2018 will mark 198 months at No. 1, or 16 and 1/2 years.
President Trump makes his love for Fox & Friends quite clear, almost daily, on twitter, and Earhardt is fully aware of the president’s support. That’s where we began our conversation Monday:
TVNewser: Does the fact that the president is consistently watching your show ever cross your mind during the broadcasts?
Earhardt: It is an honor to know that the president of the United States is watching, but it doesn’t change the narrative of our show. I’m still a girl from South Carolina, and it feels like all of my dreams are coming true. I remember when [former George W. Bush press secretary / George H.W. Bush speechwriter] Tony Snow died. Pres. Bush 41 and his late wife Barbara Bush called into Fox and Friends Weekend and said: “We’re laying in bed, we’re watching Fox News and we just heard that Tony Snow passed away. We wanted to call in and say, we’re very sorry, and want to tell you a little bit about him and what his personality was like.” I was shocked that the former President of the United States and Mrs. Bush were listening to what I say. Everyone knows who they are, but I didn’t realize they knew who we were. It’s such an honor when the President of the United States is watching you. It’s pretty surreal.
TVNewser: Some of your Fox News colleagues have made comments on their shows which have made some of their advertisers skittish. I know you appreciate your viewers, but your advertisers are important too. Is this ever discussed in production meetings, and does it ever impact what you do or don’t talk about?
Earhardt: No, that doesn’t happen.
TVNewser: OK. Why write a memoir right now, and what do you want the reader to take away from it?
Earhardt: I have written the two children’s books, and when I was approached about writing a memoir about my faith, I said, “You want a memoir? But I’m only 41 years old! Am I at a point in my life where I can even write a memoir?” They said: “Well certain people ask about your faith and we wanted to find out what your advice is and how you got to where you are through the help of God and your inspirational story.” So that’s what The Light Within Me is. The light is God. I thought to myself: ‘I don’t know if I’m equipped to write about a memoir about myself, and I don’t want to be so self-serving. I really hope people don’t walk away from the book and feel that way. I really hope that they understand this is a book about God and my relationship with God, and what He is done in my life and the glory and the riches He has brought into my life. I have had ups and downs just like everyone has, and I love that I’m able to share a little bit of my story of what God has done in my life with others. If that can help other people, that’s wonderful. That’s why I agreed to do the book. I feel that this is a story for everyone, and I hope that people find faith, God and inspiration in their own life. We’re all going through a rough time, but this is a story about how you can achieve your dreams and your goals, and how my viewers can understand my faith a little more.
TVNewser: In 2016, one of your Fox & Friends predecessors Gretchen Carlson came forward with stories of sexual harassment she said she experienced during her tenure at Fox News. Her ordeal influenced more women to speak out, resulting in significant changes at the network. In your opinion, how has Fox News changed since 2016?
Earhardt: Because of the changes, we have sexual harassment training. We have places to go if you have felt like something has been said or done inappropriately. So even though I hurt for all of those women, and I’m sorry that they went through all of that, the changes have been…it’s an easier place. There places you can go if you have a problem or an issue, and now we have those set up. We know what to do if there are any problems. But I hate that people had to go through that, and I don’t condone that at all. The changes have been beneficial for the women and men who work at Fox.
TVNewser: You are broadcasting Fox & Friends from your alma mater the University of South Carolina on Friday. What can viewers expect from the broadcast? Will students be awake at 5:30 a.m. on a Friday?
Earhardt: I’m heading down on Thursday after the show. We’re going to interview a lot of people on campus, including Congressman Trey Gowdy and Senator Tim Scott, both of South Carolina, so that will give us a political angle. We’ll be at the football stadium. We’ll be at the Horseshoe, which is at the center of campus. My dad also graduated from South Carolina, and he will be there with me. We will go to the journalism school, and stop by my old sorority house. It will be a fun experience. A lot of viewers live in South Carolina and have been supportive of my career. This is a great way to meet some of them, and say thank you. We’ll have the school mascot, the marching band, cheerleaders. It will be a fun way to end the week.