Who takes Fox News’s “The Five” seriously? It’s something of a clown-time operation, consisting of a bunch of lovable types chatting away about politics and culture. Its freewheeling nature signals to viewers that this is all fun — and it is — and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Someone forgot to tell PunditFact.
The new (and quite good) fact-checker for cable-news gabbers and their ilk actually found a checkable fact on Wednesday’s show, issuing from the mouth of loudmouth Andrea Tantaros. The irony was clearly too much to resist. The panel was riffing on a report that listed the United States 12th in a world ranking of economic freedom. The reason for the poor U.S. ranking, theorized Tantaros, has to do with education.
I do trust this poll. I believe this poll. You know, the countries that you mentioned, also the thing that separates them from us is they actually know their history and they study their history, and they study ours and what we’re doing here. And it was also not too long ago that they were suffering at the hands of socialism and communism.
I think the biggest thing that hurts this country is we don’t teach history. If you ask most people, they don’t know why we left England. They don’t even know why some guy in Boston had his head blown off because he tried to secretly raise the tax on tea. Most people don’t know that.
Boy, did PunditFact have a ball with that little lecture, digging into the ins and outs of British rule in the 1760s and 1770s, the regulatory status of tea in the colonies and the manner of death of the “tea tax guy” (“putrid fever”). The trip back into history led the checking service to a straightforward conclusion:
Tantaros appeared to be trying to make the point that Americans — who live in a country that is less economically free, according to one report — forget what the lack of freedom feels like. That position may or may not be supported by their lack of knowledge of the lead-up to the Revolutionary War. But it’s not supported by her version of history because it did not happen.
We rate her claim Pants on Fire!
By Tantaros’s logic, then, we can blame the United States’s poor economic-freedom ranking on people like Tantaros.
Based on the new book by journalist Gabriel Sherman on Fox News chief Roger Ailes, Tantaros is not on the set of “The Five” to provide on-point history lessons. Inspiration for the cast of “The Five,” Sherman reports, comes from Ailes’s experience in theater:
“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.”
The Erik Wemple Blog earlier today asked Fox News if we could chat with Tantaros about that mention. We haven’t heard back and do not expect to. As Sherman reported his book, Tantaros in 2012 slimed him on Twitter as a “harasser.” That was a nice bit of Fox News teamwork by Tantaros.
It’s unclear how Tantaros feels about Team Ailes after her mention in Sherman’s book as the “leg” of “The Five.” Asked whether he’s gotten any more flack from Tantaros, Sherman told the Erik Wemple Blog that he hadn’t. (Disclosure: Tantaros once called the Erik Wemple Blog a “little dweeb.”)