Fox & Friends Hosts Talk Ratings, Trump and 9/11

By A.J. Katz 

Fox and Friends has been cable news’ most-watched morning program for 175 consecutive months. It’s a winning streak the hosts don’t take lightly.

“We don’t take our audience for granted,” said Brian Kilmeade, who’s been with Fox News since 1997. “We get the ratings every day, every 15 minutes. We feel responsible for putting together a show that people like and care about. A show that they’re loyal to. If the ratings slip, we feel responsible.”

Led by Fox News mainstays Kilmeade and Steve Doocy, a Fox News original, and newcomer Ainsley Earhardt, the show is up 18 percent in total viewers (1,121,000) and 10 percent in A25-54 (246,000) vs 2015. “I think our viewers know when someone is being genuine and real,” Earhardt said. “Our show isn’t scripted. It comes from our hearts. Our viewers see that and I think that’s why they keep coming back.”

TVNewser chatted with Doocy and Earhardt as they got off the set following Tuesday’s show, and caught up later in the morning with Kilmeade who was on his way back from Orlando where he was reporting on the massacre at Pulse nightclub.

Roger Ailes (Chairman and CEO, Fox News) tells us: ‘Game on, we’re keeping score, go win and make the network proud,'” Kilmeade said. “All the time I feel like we’re on the clock, and I feel like tomorrow’s show is the most important show. It’s great that the ratings are high, but I do know that there’s no guarantees through the summer and the fall, and we gotta go win.”

Doocy remembers when Fox and Friends played second fiddle to CNN in the daypart. That changed after Sept. 11, 2001.

“I hear from so many people who say that they starting watching us at around the time of 9/11. I don’t necessarily know what it was about the combination of us and that particular time,” Doocy said. “I also think people enjoy our presentation and overall approach to the news.”

And then there’s the Trump effect. Even before he ran for the White House, the Republican presidential nominee had been a regular calling in to Fox and Friends almost every Monday for more than three years. An original “Friend” of Fox mornings.

“There is stuff in the news that may be unflattering to him, but we still have to ask him questions about it because otherwise it just wouldn’t be appropriate,” Doocy says of how the show, which is a part of the programming, rather than news side of Fox News, handles Trump. “Ultimately, I think that he trusts us because he knows that we’ll ask him something that he wants to talk about first, but then we will ask him about the other news that’s out there,” Doocy said.

“We ask all of the candidates to come on,” Earhart added. “Donald is very good about saying ‘yes’ to us, and I believe that this has clearly helped him.”

While guest bookings and high ratings are vital to the success of Fox and Friends, the hosts have made some indelible memories along the way:

  • Kilmeade spoke about being on-air for five straight hours without a commercial break on 9/11. Another highlight was heading to Kuwait just days before the start of the Iraq War.
  • Earhardt’s favorite moment was her interview with country music icon Dolly Parton.
  • Doocy mentioned an interview with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about 15 years ago. The interview touched on world affairs, and international leaders, but towards the end, it took a Fox and Friends-esque turn when Kissinger was given a “Fox and Friends soap on a rope.” “I remember him saying in a low voice: ‘Thank you very much, but what do I do with it? Where do I hang it?’ That moment was so great,” Doocy said.