It took a while to nail down Brian Kilmeade’s visit to “The Foxhole,” which shouldn’t surprise, as the schedule Brian maintains – as a top-rated TV morning-show host, nationally syndicated radio host, bestselling author, lecturer, marketer, philosopher-king, bon vivant, wiseass, mangler of facts, tormentor of friends, style icon, speed-reader, sports maniac, soccer coach, insomniac and oh, yes, husband and father – is jam-packed and hectic enough to provide the stuff of four or five daily existences.
When we finally did meet, via satellite before the Christmas holiday, the session lived up to expectations, inch by painful inch. An essential ingredient to Brian’s on-air style – indeed, the core of it – is his looseness: a genetic predisposition to interruption, his defiant refusal to be held strictly to topic or time cues, the ready-to-rumble willingness of a quarrelsome Long Islander to switch gears on a dime – remember dimes? – without notice or pity. All of these endearing traits, as well as Brian’s naturally curly black hair, were in evidence in our taping (remember tape?).
The very first response I elicited from him, after a gracious introduction in which I listed Brian’s accomplishments and proclaimed him “the hardest-working man in TV news,” witnessed the Serial Offender’s first transgressions, a quick flurry of rabbit punches at the opening bell: Instead of thanking me succinctly, performing the usual Guest Goat-Noises that allow the host to get about their shared business swiftly, and commence the interview – Thank you for having me! An honor to be here! Thank you, James! and so on – Brian rushed to provide the backstory, coupling it, ever so characteristically, with: a) disparagement of my conduct as a host, of the way I treat the loyal viewers of “The Foxhole” (both of them); and b) a plug for his fakokta radio program, already plugged in my introduction. I felt compelled to blow the whistle right away, to let the Big Shot Host from the Curvy Couchlands know that when we’re in “The Foxhole,” there’s only one Boss and it’s not him:
ROSEN: […] Brian Kilmeade, welcome to "The Foxhole."
KILMEADE: James, it's a role reversal. You deprive your audience from knowing that you are a contributor each and every week, at least once a week, on "Kilmeade and Friends," that nationally-syndicated radio program.
ROSEN: Okay, so you've already misbehaved and deprived me of the very first thing I was going to say, which was, “Now, this is a bit of role reversal, Brian.” So thanks for that; your particular brand of chaos has now been introduced.
Things seemed to settle down from there, as you’ll see by watching the video (remember video?).
That is to say: We did get around to discussing Brian’s latest bestseller, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History (Sentinel, November), co-authored, like Brian’s previous bestseller, George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution (Sentinel, 2013), with Don Yaeger.
Even though “The Foxhole” is structured primarily as a books-and-authors show, the only such program on any cable news platform, I will confess that discussing Brian’s book with him visited considerable psychic pain on me, as only a day separated the release of Brian’s book and my own, Cheney One on One: A Candid Conversation with America’s Most Controversial Statesman (Regnery), and I know for a fact that Brian, by energetically promoting his book at the time, was in effect working overtime to depress sales of mine. Rest assured, he didn’t get away with that, either.
Generous to a fault, I plowed ahead and also discussed Brian's previous bestsellers, The Games Do Count: America's Best and Brightest on the Power of Sports (HarperEntertainment, 2004) and It's How You PLay the Game: The Powerfui Sports Moments That Taught Lasting Values to America's Finest (HarperCollins, 2007). I had no books out at that time so my resentment of those two of Brian's was definitely less than the distemper with which I regard the Jefferson one.
But how does he manage it all, you ask? Where does he find the time? Six hours of continuous broadcasting a day! Does the man ever sleep? What is :::THE SECRET:::?
This, too, had to be probed, and I take no small measure of pride in reporting to you that I broke the [expletive deleted] down like a CVS folding chair:
KILMEADE: [W]hat I do is I'm preparing all morning. I'm up at 2:30 [a.m.], preparing all morning for it. So by the time the six o'clock show [“Fox & Friends”] is ready to go, I'm ready to do six hours, along with the breaking news that comes in. And I've got great guys like you, Jennifer Griffin, Bret Baier – that's just off the top of my head – who are able to contribute their expertise along the way, as well as other great guests and authors, who – you happen to be both – and we're able to expand on certain things. So for example, you know, Hillary Clinton attacks Donald Trump, Donald Trump demands an apology; we got both things happening. If Trump answered a little bit later with Bill Hemmer, we got that in the middle of our [radio] show. If Trump answered on "Fox & Friends," we add that. So it's kind of a breaking news feel, along with the same topics and stuff we study on a daily basis.
There it was: 2:30 a.m. That’s the secret.
Not content to let it lie there, however, unsatisfied with leaving the denizens of “The Foxhole” with an earnest and seemingly true account of how he juggles his gargantuan duties, the Serial Offender aimed, yet again, for the groin:
KILMEADE: Now, I know you have a passion for soap operas and, when I go to pick up – if I go to pick up "General Hospital" on a Wednesday, I wouldn't know what's going on. But if you watched it every single day, I would be somewhat of an expert. So for eighteen years [of continuous hosting of “Fox & Friends”] we got the storylines down.
ROSEN: Yeah, like the storyline, for example, of me and my affinity for soap operas. There's the rabbit-punching! That's what I'm talking about, okay? We've still got – you've still got time to redeem yourself over the course of this episode of "The Foxhole," so let's, let's – let's look to that.
Our motto at Fox News for many years – remember mottoes? – has been: “We report, you decide.” So, in traditional fair and balanced fashion, as this entire article has been – despite severe provocations that ordinarily would result in the swiftest punishment of the Insolent Imperialist Dog with the bestselling books – I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Brian Kilmeade, during the remainder of his rocky visit to “The Foxhole,” availed himself of the precious opportunity I extended to him for: Redemption.
James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show "The Foxhole." His latest book is "A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century" (Crown Forum, October 4, 2016).