The legend of Roger Ailes advances.
Longtime chief of Fox News, the No. 1 channel in cable news, Ailes is heralded as a programming and TV master, a reputation that in all likelihood will gain further traction with today’s addition to the daytime lineup: “Outnumbered,” a noontime horseshoe-couch news show/chatfest featuring four female hosts and one fella in the middle of it all. As Variety reported, the “initial idea” for the show came from Ailes himself. From the snippets we’ve checked out from today’s debut (we had a lunch appointment, sorry), “Outnumbered” looks like a safe bet to outnumber the competition in ratings. It showed:
• Lively discussion of contemporary topics, with a particularly watchable segment on the differing views of men and women vis-a-vis cheating.
• A sound mix of news and blather.
• A gender dynamic. In a segment on the female Texas teacher who gave a lap dance to a 15-year-old male student, Tucker Carlson argued there was no criminal conduct, maintaining that, “There’s no victim here.”
He said, “Having been a 15-year-old boy, I can tell you: Unless there’s something we don’t know about this, this kid’s life has not been [inaudible]. He is not a victim. This is the dream of a 15-year-old boy.”
Those comments fed a beat-down, as the four women — Kimberly Guilfoyle (who appears to thrive in this format), Jedediah Bila, Sandra Smith and Harris Faulkner — just clobbered Carlson. At one point, Guilfoyle protested that the teacher put her head between the student’s legs, and Carlson responded, “She was, you know, acting out a lap dance.” Expect similar moments to come on future editions of “Outnumbered.” Ailes, we’re guessing, senses that the men on the Fox News payroll are gender-dumb — or just plain sexist — and will proceed to showcase their blind spots on midday television. Such has happened before, as when Megyn Kelly destroyed Fox News colleagues Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs in a debate over women and the workforce.
Such visuals have to please Ailes. When he was riffing on ideas for Fox News’s roundtable hit show “The Five,” he said the following, according to Gabriel Sherman’s exhaustive Ailes biography:
“He said, ‘I’ve always wanted to do an ensemble concept,’” a close friend said. “He said, ‘I wanted a Falstaff, and that’s Bob Beckel. I need a leading man, and it’s Eric Bolling. I need a serious lead and that’s Dana Perino. I need a court jester and it’s Greg [Gutfeld], and I need the leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”
On “Outnumbered,” Ailes gets four sets of legs, all arrayed carefully for viewers and modeled by women who, at least today, were wearing skirts, not pants. Gretchen Carlson, a Fox News host who dressed similarly on the couch of morning show “Fox & Friends,” said last year that there was a “no-pants” rule.
So if women are really outnumbering men on this show, perhaps we’ll see some pants on the “Outnumbered” couch. In addition, that is, to those worn by the guy.