Steve Doocy has become the unexpected dissident voice of Fox News

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It was just after 6 in the morning and Steve Doocy was already going against the current.

“We have no privacy!” his “Fox & Friends” co-host, Ainsley Earhardt, was worried.

“Is incredible!” agreed another co-host, Lawrence Jones.

Their outrage was sparked during that mid-January broadcast by a new allegation that federal officials had asked banks to monitor purchases by outdoor retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, in an effort to flag potential extremists. who could have participated in the January 6 attack. 2021, insurrection. On a network like Fox News that employs experts who have downplayed the violence at the US Capitol, this was concerning. Earhardt considered that scrutiny “an invasion”; a fourth co-host, Brian Kilmeade, reflected on government intimidation.

But Doocy, host of Fox’s enduring morning show since 1998, simply didn’t share her alarm.

“It seems that if you attack a federal officer, there will be a federal investigation,” he responded.

Doocy’s turn was the latest example of his surprise emergence as the resident dissident on “Fox & Friends,” a rare member of Fox News’ opinion wing who challenges conventional Republican wisdom on a regular basis.

In particular, Doocy has stood out as a skeptic of congressional investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, breaking the party line, while Fox hosts like Sean Hannity regularly denounce what they call “the Biden crime family.” He also emphasized the importance (and veracity) of the legal challenges Trump faces, discussed Trump rivals like Nikki Haley, and criticized the MAGA wing of the Republican Party.

Lately, Doocy seems to enjoy sparking heated on-screen debates at a time of day when TV viewers are accustomed to light banter and fluffy segments. And he does so in an era when Fox’s influence over the direction of the Republican Party has never been greater. With most of Fox’s other hosts now endorsing Trump’s 2024 campaign, Doocy’s presence suggests hidden pockets of resistance. In the net.

“What happened to you, Steve?” Hannity asked on another January broadcast, after Doocy cited an outlier poll showing Haley leading Trump in New Hampshire. “Are you moving to the left?”

Doocy laughed but evaded the question. “I’m on screen left right now,” she joked.

“He may express some skepticism about the narratives that are promoted on his show that you don’t get from anyone else,” said Daniel Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson University professor who wrote a 2016 book about Fox News. “He is not there as part of the ideological project. He is there as an affable morning television host.”

Doocy first made a splash in 2021, when he emerged as a leading promoter of the coronavirus vaccineeven as some of their prime-time counterparts raised concerns and fueled doubts. In a typical exchange that year, Jones argued that some people don’t see the point in getting vaccinated because of “misinformation” and conflicting CDC guidelines.

“What’s the point of doing it?” Jones said. “Because?”

“Well, you won’t die,” Doocy replied. “That’s a good reason.”

Downplaying the findings of Biden’s impeachment inquiry, Doocy has frequently clashed with Kilmeade over the latter’s enthusiasm for the GOP impeachment investigations.

“Republicans have yet to present direct evidence of Joe Biden’s misconduct,” Doocy recently declared.

Kilmeade persisted. “But man, man, this looks absolutely terrible,” citing a set of Biden family activities that some Republican lawmakers insist look suspicious. “I think there is evidence,” Earhardt interjected. When Doocy pointed out that many lawmakers have said they see no evidence of misconduct by the president, she responded, “there are many who say they do.”

Things got even more heated when Doocy made the same argument in August. Kilmeade, “vehemently” disagreeing, told Doocy to “let me finish.”

“Leave me finish!” Doocy responded. “I started it!” He challenged Kilmeade to cite which laws the president broke. “Just answer the question,” he insisted when Kilmeade evaded. “What law did he break?” And when Earhardt, on the Kilmeade side, argued that “the Americans are” watching [the Bidens] get away with it,” Doocy ran out of patience.

“We still don’t know what they got away with!” she exclaimed, before closing Kilmeade’s rebuttal: “You know what? “We don’t agree with this!” she said, stating the obvious. “Just say.”

Doocy’s castmates have also criticized him for using political language (“reproductive rights”) more common in Democratic circles. And it’s often up to Earhardt to break the tension and reestablish the light-hearted morning banter.

“Boys, guys, we have so many wonderful stories we have to get to,” he said last month, interrupting a dispute about Ukraine to tease a celebrity guest. “We need to talk about Brad Paisley.”

Doocy’s increasingly frequent brushes with Republican orthodoxy and The clashes with his co-hosts have become a touchstone for the social media account Decoding Fox News, which has begun to focus on Kilmeade’s frustrated face at the moment.

“I have a folder labeled ‘Doocy goes rogue’ because he does it so often,” said Juliet Jeske, who manages the account on Substack.

Through a spokesperson, Doocy declined an interview request. But current and former Fox News employees said Doocy and Kilmeade generally get along well off camera, even when their interactions often appear heated on television.

“They were cordial, but I wouldn’t say they were friends either,” said a former “Fox & Friends” employee who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect relationships. Given that dynamic, the person said she was “surprised” by the recent clashes, attributing them to the more tense political atmosphere in the Trump era.

“Doocy’s previous philosophy was ‘Give the viewers what they want,'” said another former Fox News staffer. “Something has changed and I think there is tension on set as a result.”

Or, possibly, the broadcasting veteran has simply rediscovered the value of a good on-air political fight. out of your talk show “The Five” Those kinds of discussions are less common on Fox News today, as it increasingly fills its airwaves with experts and guests who share its audience’s worldview.

“I hope there are different points of view” Doocy told an interviewer in 2021.“because it would be very boring if there wasn’t one.”

While his opinion colleagues at Fox have sold millions of copies of conservative polemics, Doocy’s books have dealt with cooking, parenting and marriage, reflecting his roots in a softer style of broadcasting.

He began as a features reporter for the NBC affiliate in Washington, DC. In her 2021 memoir, her former colleague Katie Couric described it as “a benignly fun kind of reporting”; Doocy even emceed the future “Today” host’s wedding.

In the early 1990s, he hosted a children’s show called “Not Just News.” Doocy started each episode greeting the audience with “Hello, kids,” to which they responded, “Hello, Doocy!”

In addition to debating his co-hosts, Doocy over the past year has also shown a willingness to challenge congressional Republicans, something relatively rare during opinion hours on Fox.

In early February, he clashed with Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) over the majority’s opposition to an immigration reform bill. “Are the Republicans going to say that the Border Patrol union and the actions [Customs and Border Protection] Is the boss wrong? Doocy asked, citing two congressional districts that had supported the bill.

When Emmer responded that “they can have their perspective,” Doocy responded, “It’s their job, Tom!”

Doocy has been such a thorn in the side of Republican leaders trying to investigate the Bidens that House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said in December that he is boycotting “Fox & Friends.” his fault.

“He’s the only guy at Fox who’s been very critical of the investigation,” Comer told Newsmax host Eric Bolling, adding ominously, “I have my theory as to why. We will talk about that later.”

Doocy’s contrarian stances have endeared him to many of Fox’s most prominent critics and defenders, with caveats.

“Doocy is trying to drag Fox one percent closer to the center of reality,” former CNN anchor and Fox watcher Brian Stelter told The Post.

Still, he described Doocy’s backs as “love blows, not punches” and said that “the real microdoses only stand out because they are so rare anywhere else on Fox.”

Stelter added that Doocy “doesn’t go above and beyond” in the way he challenges Republican talking points. “But on ‘Fox & Friends,’ minimal is a big deal.” (In response, a Fox News spokesperson issued a statement dismissing Stelter’s credibility.)

But he’s doing more than enough to irritate Trump, who once viewed Doocy as a reliable patron. (The New Yorker reported in 2019 that Trump had rated him 12 out of 10 for loyalty.)

Doocy “has always been very kind to me over the years,” the former president told an interviewer in September. “I would say over the last year, I don’t know, it just seems like he’s not as nice as he should be.”

In a TruthSocial post in January, Trump agonized over Doocy: “What happened to that guy???” Later, he blamed Doocy (an “unwatchable RINO”). [Republican in name only]”) for a slight drop in the ratings for “Fox & Friends.” (The show remains the most-watched morning cable news program, as it has been for 22 years)

Trump’s anger could stem from Doocy’s persistent position that the former president did not win the 2020 election, and he should acknowledge that. Doocy reiterated that belief during a deposition before attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems, which he sued over Fox’s coverage of the 2020 election. “There was simply no evidence… for these claims,” Doocy told them.

He has also rejected Republican efforts to explain the four criminal charges Trump faces. During an August segment, Doocy pressed Trump attorney Alina Habba on what “insider information” she has to support her argument that the racketeering case against her client in Fulton County, Georgia, does not pose a significant threat. for him.

Habba began to answer his question and then broke the fourth wall.

“You used to love Trump,” he complained.

Doocy smiled and said nothing.

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