On coronavirus coverage, “Red Eye,” and Scott Adams – Fourth Watch “BCC Interview” with Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld

For this week’s “BCC” interview, I emailed with Fox News host Greg Gutfeld. I’ve been a fan of Gutfeld’s for years, from back in his “Red Eye” days – now he co-hosts “The Five” every weekday and his weekend “Greg Gutfeld Show.”

Below is the full email exchange between myself and Gutfeld. Click here for my “BCC Interview” with the New York Times’ Ben Smith, or here for my interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi. And click here to subscribe to the Fourth Watch newsletter.

From: Steve Krakauer

To: Greg Gutfeld

Hey Greg-

Hope you’re doing well and staying safe in New York. Let’s start with pretty much the only story going on right now, the coronavirus crisis. You, notably, were early in identifying this could be a problem for our country, back in January. But forget looking in the past – what do you think the administration is doing right, and not right, NOW, when it comes to the threat of and response to coronavirus in America?

But let’s also talk about the media coverage of it. What do you make of the decision by networks like CNN and MSNBC to air less and less of the briefings? What stands out as some of the most notable media coverage recently to you?

Feel free to throw any questions my way as well…



From: Greg Gutfeld

To: Steve Krakauer

The administration’s daily briefings are a good thing. But they need to move beyond telling us “what they have,” and move more into “what is needed.”

We have effectively galvanized a nation to dramatically alter their lives…..so we as a country should expect something in return – and that is specific answers to questions like, “how much of the anti-malarial drug do we need,” “how many ventilators do we need,” and “do we have a plan to return to work, and how will that look?” And “what is the right number of masks so we can all have the right number, when we return to work.”

The problem: it’s not entirely the fault of the task force; the media is more addicted to their repetitive model of gotcha questioning. Someone above them tells them to obsess over language, instead of information.

It might be the only industry that is really letting us down. Every one is stepping up! But them!

 They get hot and bothered in their daily game of “what’s racist today,”  or “Trump was mean to a reporter” or my favorite “how many dead people are you willing to accept in order to save the economy.”  I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea.  These briefings end up being a lot of wasted time because the media disregards what matters. Now it’s just “get the President to say something explosive so we can feed off that for another news cycle.”  I don’t mind Trump chewing them out because their questions are so nakedly petty.

The media coverage is awful.  I say this as someone who wrote medical stories for a long, early segment of my career. And it helps me understand how doctors talk, vs how say, Trump talks.

The media likes to create a fantasy rift between trump and Fauci – even though they’re often saying the same thing – but in different languages. When I worked at Prevention and Men’s Health magazines, I interviewed hundreds of doctors – maybe more I can’t remember – but they were always cautious and restrained, and rarely optimistic. Trump is optimistic, and far from restrained.  So when you see Fauci and Trump tackle the same subject, the style will diverge, but the central truth is shared.

The bottom line: when this is over, it will never be over, in the opinion-verse.  The prison of  two ideas will be this: We flattened the curve and saved tons of lives – or the disease wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Because that’s still the debate over the SARS outbreak nearly 18 years ago.   Experts still credit subduing that disease with public health practices, while others say it just wasn’t that deadly.

It’s probably a mixture of both – but it can never be answered. that will happen with Corona.

Then add the other prison of two ideas, which are “Trump acted too late and has blood on his hands” (which will be the media and democrats line come November), and “Trump saved lives and preserved an economy that is now roaring back.”

One thing I learned from all this: America isn’t what the media paints us as. We aren’t greedy selfish jerks. We came together.

Oddly, its the media that looks pretty bad – they are who they accused us of.  They looked in the mirror and didn’t like what they saw, so they blame us.

From: Steve Krakauer

To: Greg Gutfeld

Hey Greg-

Totally agree on this false binary being set up on both sides. It makes me long for some semblance of nuance. There’s so much being made of “Trump said this. Fauci said this. Who’s right? Our panel debates.” When the answer is, they can both be right! Or not! It’s complicated and nuanced! 

It actually has made me question our media structure entirely. A crisis like this is so antithetical to Twitter. And Twitter is the programming mechanism for so much cable news now. Does a complicated crisis like this expose something fundamentally wrong with our media structure? Is it fixable when this ends?

One other thing I wanted to touch on is New York. Back when I was an editor at Mediaite, you and I had… a few drinks… at a few different establishments around New York City. I’ve been out of NYC (in Dallas) for 6 years now, but you always struck me as someone who really loved NYC, almost represented New York, it’s vibe and eccentricities. I wonder how you think the city in particular is coping with this? What does the rest of the country not get right about the people of New York?

From: Greg Gutfeld

To: Steve Krakauer

It is not fixable. Because to change something you need incentives. and there is no incentive for a company that makes money off division, conflict and fear to change.

Twitter can be used to fan out their phony smears, But you’re also seeing Twitter disrupt and undermine their narratives too. So it’s probably a good thing. If it weren’t for non-media voices about the utility of face masks or medicines for the virus — we’d be lost. Because the media seemed less interested in that, and more interested in repeating gotcha questions.

 I associate NYC with excitement and stress. You can’t have one without the other, especially with so many people living on top of each other. The city’s handling the crisis, so far. Besides worrying about law enforcement and hospital workers, I worry about the bar and restaurant world. these are businesses built on razor thin margins.  Another lie built by the media: business owners are rich. Hell no. That’s just Amazon. One bad snowstorm can close a bar — that’s how thin their profits margins are. When this is over people need to go out – eat, drink and tip well; and we need a deduction for one year of drinking and eating out – to give the consumers incentive, and a break. We will need one.

From: Steve Krakauer

To: Greg Gutfeld


A deduction for eating and drinking out … I can get on board with that! Let me ask you about your career path at Fox – you’re co-host now of The Five every weekday, and have the weekend late night show. But for many years, your primary role was hosting the 3am show “Red Eye.” Red Eye was fantastic, weird, innovative – I used to DVR it regularly, and occasionally watch live. It had a huge cult following. Do you miss it? Do you keep in touch with the cast of regulars who made it the truly unique show it was?

Last thing… I critique the media a lot, and Twitter a lot, but there is also a lot of good being done. Who is one non-Fox Twitter follow that’s worth checking out, and also a media personality you generally enjoy that may surprise people?

Thanks for doing this, stay safe…

From: Greg Gutfeld

To: Steve Krakauer

Its amazing how many people love this show now.…but i am too busy doing so much stuff now, that I can’t miss anything. If I wasn’t working – yeah, i guess i would miss it. It was a one of a kind show. Nothing like it. Basically a weirdo magazine brought to life. It may never happen again! I think if I miss anything, it’s the frequency of it, which allows you to take more risks.

Because the GG show is weekly, you aren’t willing to toss a few minutes toward a monumentally bizarre or silly idea. Which we did daily on redeye. Having said that – the GG show does a lot of innovative, even brilliant things, with a small super talented staff.

I’m a big Scott Adams fan. His Periscopes in the morning are indispensable. And most of the people who know anything about the world watch them. He’s the first person I heard who brought up the coronavirus. He was also the first person to predict Trump winning.  His philosophy, which is grounded in persuasion – that people often see different realities when looking at the same thing- is a helpful way to assess any issue. His books are great too.