By Yael Kohen published
On air, your colleague Mike Gallagher said of your maternity leave, "What a racket that is." What do you make of those remarks?
I couldn't figure out whether he was jealous that men don't also get that time, or whether he was objecting to anyone having it. If it's the former, good for him — I agree. Men should have more time with their newborn babies. If it's the latter, what a stupid thing to say. For him to suggest that I'm eating bonbons and doing something other than raising my infant is really ignorant.
You have a very close relationship with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Tell us something we may not know about him.
Obviously he's very powerful, a television genius. Even his critics will cop to that. But he is also somebody who looks out for the people who work for him. A couple years ago, I had a very bad stalking problem. I was living alone in D.C. In addition to security Fox provided me, Roger offered to pay out of his own pocket for special dead bolts throughout my home. It was just a small thing, but he didn't have to do it. I had a boss who cared, and it made me feel better.
Last year, you posed in a slinky slip for GQ. Do you think that compromises your credibility at all?
I don't. My viewers know that I'm a reasonable, credible, intelligent person. Would I have done the GQ spread when I first started in this business? No, because I didn't have any of that currency built up. The audience might have thought that was all I had to offer.
You don't think those kinds of spreads influence how people see you — that it's about the looks instead of the substance?
The way I look is a part of my business. It is a visual medium. It's not irrelevant, and it doesn't bother me. I guess it would bother me if people were writing about how unattractive I was, but I don't think my looks are the only thing I'm known for.
Slate called you a "postfeminist news babe." What do you think of that characterization?
I don't like that term. It's pejorative. I don't know who wrote that article, but I'm gonna bet it was a guy.
Would you agree that Fox has cultivated a reputation as a stomping ground for news babes? YouTube is filled with videos of Fox anchors wearing really short skirts.
Roger is very good at finding attractive people who are also interesting and smart. But you have to be careful what you're looking at. Some on-air talent have objected that some websites will Photoshop the skirts and make it seem like the women were wearing something more like a belt than a skirt. Don't believe it unless you've seen it live.
I assume you believe in free speech. How do you feel about the fact that Sarah Palin doesn't talk to the press unless it's Fox News?
Well, I don't know if the premise of the question is correct, because she has talked to other outlets. I think there are certain outlets she doesn't like. And I think she thinks she's been treated unfairly by people in the press.
But isn't that part of the job? Isn't that what politicians have to do?
I suppose so. If I were Sarah Palin, would I want to sit in an interview with someone who was secretly out to get me? Probably not. But as a journalist, do I want candidates to make themselves available to all of us? Yes, I do. I think it's a good idea.
Do you think that ideologues like Glenn Beck have harmed Fox's reputation as a legitimate source of unbiased news?
If Fox had promoted Glenn Beck as a straight newsman who would be delivering the nightly update, like Bret Baier, then yes. But it was clear from the beginning — and it remains clear — that Glenn Beck is an opinion host. He doesn't report as a journalist and isn't making any attempt to be a journalist.
Do you think Fox is biased?
No. Fox News covers stories that some other news outlets won't cover. We ask some questions that other news outlets wouldn't ask. And sometimes that's perceived as bias by people who've grown up in a world where there are only liberal outlets.
What's it like to be a frequent and favorite target of Jon Stewart?
I find Jon Stewart very funny — except for when he's making fun of me. [laughs] The problem with Stewart is when people think The Daily Show is actual news, or that he made an attempt to be fair, which I think he would freely admit that he doesn't.
He has called you out for being a hypocrite. For example, you challenged a guest who accused your network of using Nazi rhetoric in reference to Democrats. Then Stewart ran clips of your colleagues doing exactly that. Is he taking you out of context, or do you take his point?
I had never said it didn't happen. My guest asserted that it happened every night on Fox News, and I said, "That's not true." And then Fox critics put words in my mouth and tried to criticize me for them. Jon Stewart definitely takes [things I say] out of context for humorous effect. And I think he would admit that. But it's really one of those can't-lose situations because every time he mocks me, it increases my visibility and bumps my ratings. So mock away!
Have you ever regretted anything you've said on camera?
No, I haven't. Listen, I've been on the air, every day, for several hours, for several years now. I've said stupid things. I've made mistakes. I've used language I'd like to take back. I'm not perfect. But in terms of regretting — no, that's a waste of time.
Now that Glenn Beck has left the network, there's talk that you're up for his slot, which would make you one of cable news' most influential players. Are you game for that?
It's not like I'm not going to consider it if they approach me. But it would require a lot of soul-searching because I really do like the setup I have now. I spend mornings with my family, then I go in, put on a good two-hour program, and I'm home in time for dinner. It's a pretty good deal.
I think it's fair to say that you, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity are quintessentially Fox News personalities. But could you ever see yourself at another network?
Sure. Television can be a very fickle place. One day you're the bride, the next, the bridesmaid, the next, divorced altogether. So if Fox decides I'm washed up and have to go someplace else, then I'll go someplace else.
Follow the author of this story on Twitter at @YaelKohen.
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