One of the more inexplicable stars of the Fox News channel is Eric Bolling, once one-fifth of The Five and now one-fifth of The Fox News Specialists, the show that has replaced The Five at 5 p.m. Confused? Not as much as Bolling is, routinely. A beefy former commodities trader who always looks as though he’s shaking off a brain-rattling tackle on the football field, Bolling somehow gained the confidence of Fox News executives a few years ago. He used to do a weekly segment on The O’Reilly Factor debating Geraldo Rivera. There, as Bill O’Reilly gazed balefully at the two men, Bolling would sputter out Republican talking points that were frequently so predictable and doctrinaire that O’Reilly would insert himself into the discussion to try to give the segment more life.
On The Five, Bolling was best known for beginning the show by holding up his hand to display five fingers, and pointing to them with the other hand. Get it? Five fingers. Five o’clock. The Five. And that is literally the only thing he was known for. Bolling has never made an original point or uttered an original phrase in his TV life, and you get the feeling that when The Five was tapped to occupy Tucker Carlson’s 9 p.m. slot, Fox News decided this was a good time to leave him behind — like a dunce who’d flunked a grade. (He was replaced on The Five by Jesse Watters, the smarmy wiseguy from the “Watters World” O’Reilly Factor segments, proving once again that Fox News lost a valuable farm-team system when it canceled the Factor.)
Now Bolling is making his trademark “hey, I’ve got five fingers” sign on Fox News Specialists, which premiered last week. He is flanked by co-hosts Kat Timpf, a former standup comic who last week referred to herself as “a kooky Libertarian,” and Eboni Williams, a lawyer who invariably seems too smart for whatever Fox News panel she’s on. The three have no chemistry whatsoever as they discuss the day’s news. The show turns the trio into a different version of The Five by inviting two different guests each day. These have ranged from Krystal Ball, a liberal who’s reaching a much larger audience than she used to as a co-host of MSNBC’s own failed afternoon show The Cycle, to Tyrus, a pro wrestler and bodyguard — just the sort of person you want to heed in any repeal-and-replace-Obamacare discussion, right?
To say this is news for dummies is an insult to dummies. Bolling’s hypocrisy is sad. Last week, he got all huffy about Stephen Colbert’s controversially vulgar Trump insult: “Donald Trump is president. You don’t make those kinds of jokes about the president! He needs to apologize to the president!” This phony outrage came from a guy who once insulted former President Barack Obama for hosting rapper Common in the White House to such a degree that Bolling was forced to make on on-air apology.
The Fox News Specialists — it’s as though Fox picked the name by saying, “What’s the one thing these people, when it comes to news, are not? Yeah, that’s it: specialists!” — is so arid and so easy to ignore that the Trump White House decided it was the perfect place to tuck Kellyanne Conway, who appeared on the panel last Friday. Poor Conway. You know that when you’re being asked to balance out a panel with wrestler Tyrus and laugh at Bolling’s jokes, you’ve hit a previously unknown career low.
The Fox News Specialists airs weekdays at 5 p.m. on Fox News.