The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim yesterday profiled afternoon Fox News anchor Shepard Smith. It was a revealing bit of portraiture, minus the fantasy part: “Shep’s approach represents one potential path forward for Fox News ― undeniably conservative, but grounded in reality, observant of American traditions and democratic norms, and partisan only when a standpoint fully aligns with conservative and American values.”

We’ll believe such a scenario when Smith and his proteges take over “Fox & Friends,” the ratings-killing morning show that produces idiocy so exotic and thorough that there has to be a special recipe somewhere behind the set. A case in point arose this morning, as co-host Steve Doocy introduced an interview by colleague Ainsley Earhardt with Melania Trump, a timely sit-down in light of the leak of a 2005 tape in which Donald Trump and then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush engaged in misogynistic banter. Bush was just fired from his “Today” show slot because of the outrage over the tape.

Doocy teed up the interview with these words: “It is official: Billy Bush, reportedly fired from the ‘Today’ show after NBC executives threw him under the bus in a covert attempt to derail the Trump train.”

Groundless conjecture of this sort has long enabled “Fox & Friends” to best its cable-news competitors in the morning hours by rather generous margins. Competitive standing surely has helped Doocy remain where he is, even after he was cited for sexist behavior toward former co-host Gretchen Carlson in a headline-grabbing sexual harassment suit that 21st Century Fox settled for $20 million and a sturdy apology. “It would be foolish of us, if you think about the success of Fox News, both in its positioning and the voice that it has, and then where our competitors sit, whether CNN, MSNBC or others, it would be foolish of us to pursue a failed strategy instead of sticking with a winning strategy,” said 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch last month.