Newsweek reported 13 months ago that Greg Gutfeld was the new king of late-night TV when, according to Nielsen data, his Fox News show, Gutfeld!, scored a larger weekly audience than those hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC, Jimmy Kimmel on ABC and Stephen Colbert on CBS.
Since then, Gutfeld has defeated the big three broadcast networks several more times, including a recent six-week run, perhaps cementing the notion that nonpartisan comedy—or at least partisanship in equal measure—from the likes of Johnny Carson and Jay Leno is a thing of the past.
Newsweek asked the new, sporadic, king of late night to weigh in on the matter in a Q&A, and he didn’t hold back his critique of the competition while also offering some advice to Sunny Hostin, a co-host of The View, who has had social media buzzing recently after she criticized conservative politician Nikki Haley for not using the Indian name she was given at birth.
Newsweek: Why are you often getting more viewers than Colbert, Fallon or Kimmel, even though they are on free broadcast TV and you’re on a cable channel?
Gutfeld: We’re funny and unpredictable and we’re not interested in lecturing or indoctrinating, just entertaining.
Newsweek: And the other three are not? Do you like any of them?
Gutfeld: All they’re doing is repeating the same assumptions that you can get anywhere else, so you don’t get anything new. So why bother?
Newsweek: You were recently No. 1 on late night and Colbert, who is also very political, but on the left, was No. 2. So, it pays to be partisan and the days of Johnny Carson and Jay Leno skewering both sides are gone?
Gutfeld: No, because I think my show is the least political. We have five blocks, three are cultural, one is political and one is a crossover. I try to structure it like, if you’re watching with your sister and she’s a liberal, she might laugh.
Newsweek: But even when your show is cultural, it’s political. When you hosted a very late night show called Red Eye years ago, Andrew Breitbart was a regular guest and he used to say that politics is downstream from culture. You agree?
Gutfeld: Yes, but our side didn’t do that. We’re just playing a game with rules set by liberals, who think everything is political. If I have a common-sense opinion about something, it’s not my fault it’s political, it’s the fault of liberals. I’m not trying to be political when I say something about biology. If that’s suddenly political, that’s not on me. I haven’t changed; they changed.
Newsweek: Give me an example of you saying something about biology and then liberals turning it into politics.
Gutfeld: It’s not political to think that there are males and females. It’s not political to think that maybe you shouldn’t be operating on children who are confused about their gender at age 5 or 7. Those aren’t political stances, but the left makes them political, not me.
Newsweek: What guests have you wanted on your show but haven’t been able to get?
Gutfeld: I’ve had people say yes, but then they canceled, but they may have had legitimate reasons. Russell Brand, for example, was supposed to be on this week but canceled. He may have just had another commitment. And I was disappointed, because I really like Russell Brand a lot. It would have been fun. Hopefully we’ll reschedule.
Newsweek: Have you had a favorite guest?
Gutfeld: I like the people I can make fun of and the people who make fun of me. That’s why Kat Timpf and Tyrus are there. They’re panelists, but kind of like my favorite guests. I like familiar faces—the Fox people. Brian Kilmeade is fantastic because I insult him for the entire show and he puts up with it, then he insults me. I like a pool of familiar faces, like on The Love Boat. And The Five (a Fox News show he co-hosts) is like a real version of Friends. It may be a strength, or weakness, but I get uncomfortable around people who are uncomfortable. It’s really contagious. If you’re extremely comfortable around me, then I’m comfortable.
Newsweek: Roseanne Barr will be on the Fox News streaming service. You ever have her on your show?
Gutfeld: I’ve been DM-ing her for five years. Now that she’s doing Fox Nation, I hope she’ll do my show. I know she watched it and liked it, before she got canceled. She’d be a scream. But I don’t know if she’d travel (to New York). A lot of people don’t. They’re too rich.
Newsweek: Speaking of being canceled, what do you think of Hollywood or left-wing activists trying to cancel comedians like Roseanne, Ricky Gervais and Dave Chapelle for telling hateful jokes?
Gutfeld: An interesting trend is that the biggest stars in England are anti-cancel culture, like Russell Brand, Ricky Gervais and all of the alumni from Monty Python. These guys are really funny and edgy, so that’s a really good sign. It’s that thing where if they tell you not to do something, it ends up creating something better as a rebellion. “You think we’re too mean, then we’ll be really mean!” Cancelers always smear because they have nothing; they say you’re being insensitive and putting a target on someone’s back because of words. That can be used on everybody, so comedians like Gervais and Chapelle went even further.
Newsweek: Are you getting attacked by detractors?
Gutfeld: When you’re at Fox, you’re always attacked, and always by the same people. Like boats have barnacles attached to themselves, or a giant fish provides sustenance for tiny fish. That’s what I’ve been for microbloggers at the Daily Beast and Media Matters. They’re people who get paid to watch The Five and Gutfeld! then write about it. It’s got to be demoralizing that your entire career is based on another person’s career. I’m creating jobs for really miserable people. I feel kind of bad for them. I only make fun of them because I realize they’re not having a good time.
Newsweek: Speaking of Media Matters, their latest claim is that you’re a book-banner.
Gutfeld: I’m not. That was funny. But I didn’t read it. Their whole ploy is that you don’t read the story, only the headline. It shows up on a feed, and I don’t read it, and nobody reads it. That sort of thing is out of gas. It used to be these left-wing sites would get traction creating controversies that aren’t there. When you keep doing that over and over again, people get used to it. When you see a headline just too on the nose, over the top, you know that if you click on it you’re going to be upset because it’s not real. All these entities coming after Fox are suffering from diminishing returns. Everybody sees the ruse and that it’s a profit-making thing for a few pennies here and there.
Newsweek: Do any of these attacks on you ever rise to threats, where security or cops are involved?
Gutfeld: That’s true for most people at Fox. I learned early on not to complain about the death threats. Don’t complain about it. It’s the life I chose. There’s serious stuff that I got to deal with. Everybody in the public eye deals with this thanks to social media, TV and a population of 370 million people. A death threat now isn’t the same as it used to be. The bar’s been lowered. You have drunk people on Twitter saying things. You have to let that roll off of you. But some things are more serious, like when they say they know where you live, and that s**t is important to follow up on.
Newsweek: How’d you go from liberal student at the University of California, Berkeley to conservative talk-show host?
Gutfeld: By stepping out of the bubble. If you live in the bubble, you can’t see around the corner. I said this on The Five and it’s the best thing I’ve ever said, because it encourages people to leave the bubble, where there’s nobody who entertains a different idea. The reason Sunny Hostin on The View made fun of Nikki Haley’s name is because she didn’t realize she was walking into a trap. She didn’t know it would rebound on her. Her name, “Sunny,” is a nickname, and Nikki’s name is on her birth certificate. If she’d have lived outside her bubble, she’d have seen around that corner.
Gutfeld: I watch them for entertainment value; they’re so angry and confused. I think CNN is merely a curiosity. I do see them making some progress, but they’re definitely not in the middle. They’re trying. They’ve made some good employment moves. I never root for people to get fired, but they have a ways to go.
Newsweek: Let’s pretend this Q&A is already published and some folks in the comments field are criticizing me for giving you a platform to spew your hate. Any response?
Gutfeld: I don’t care about any of that. Who gives a s**t? Why would I even consider that? And why would you? That’s insulting to you, not me. Somebody is telling you that you can’t pick a subject matter they disagree with? You should be the one offended. You should be the one to say, ‘go f**k yourself.’ That has nothing to do with me. That’s where you have to grow.
Newsweek: Why does it seem there are many more liberals in comedy than there are conservatives?
Gutfeld: This isn’t true—if people say there aren’t conservatives in comedy because conservatives aren’t funny, I don’t think they know what a conservative is. If you go back in history and look at some of the great comics, they would never be identified as liberal today and, now, to be a left-wing comedian means only to be left wing, replacing comedy with preening, virtue-signaling lectures.
Newsweek: I’ve seen articles and books warn about a rise of conservative comedy. What do liberals fear about this?
Gutfeld: Audiences on both sides of the aisle are getting tired of being talked down to and are looking for something to make them laugh that isn’t constantly hammering leftist talking points. The broadcast late-night shows have been picking from the same buffet for years and it’s just not funny. They look at the numbers and know their audiences are leaving. They forgot over half the country doesn’t agree with them.
Newsweek: What’s the most interesting subject to talk about on your two shows?
Gutfeld: The world is never boring. If the world bores you, that’s your problem. I can find something to talk about every day, and I’m lucky that Fox trusts me to do it.