During Donald Trump's transition to the White House, Eric Bolling was reportedly in the running for a job in the Commerce Department. He just landed a gig that is even better for him — and for Trump.
Bolling, a former commodities trader and New York Mercantile Exchange board member, will launch his own show on Fox News on May 1, giving him a big platform from which to cheer on the president.
And he will most certainly be cheering. Bolling was an early and enthusiastic Trump supporter and has a book coming out in June called “The Swamp: Washington's Murky Pool of Corruption and Cronyism and How Trump Can Drain It.”
Bolling is currently part of the ensemble cast of “The Five,” which will move from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tucker Carlson, now in the 9 p.m. slot, will take over the 8 p.m. hour vacated by Bill O'Reilly, who is leaving the network after an advertiser exodus prompted by sexual-harassment allegations that he denies. As of next month, Bolling will host the 5 p.m. slot.
Bolling's promotion is a win for Trump and the latest sign that Fox News's lineup is becoming even more favorable to the president than it was during the general election. Bolling will presumably be joined by network contributors and guests with different takes, but with him leading the commentary, the 5 p.m. hour is about to be more Trump-friendly.
In prime time, Carlson is a bigger Trump booster than O'Reilly, who occasionally offered harsh commentary and used his rapport with the billionaire to slip some tough questions into interviews. “The Five” — a rotating panel to comprise Juan Williams, Dana Perino, Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, Bob Beckel and Kimberly Guilfoyle — will provide mixed views but figures to be more pro-Trump overall than Megyn Kelly's program was in the same time slot.
More broadly, the tone of Fox News commentary on Trump has warmed dramatically since the Republican primary, when Trump was so infuriated by the network's critical coverage that he briefly boycotted all shows and refused to participate in a debate that featured Kelly as one of three moderators.
Bolling, however, has been on Trump's side since the beginning of the campaign, and he rivals Sean Hannity for loyalty. On the day after Trump entered the race, at a time when many political commentators — even conservative ones — panned his debut speech as offensive and unserious, Bolling went to bat for him. (“Went to bat” is a fitting metaphor, by the way, because Bolling was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1984. He hit .184 in one minor-league season.)
“Look, I'm not Donald Trump's spokesperson,” Bolling said on June 17, 2015, “but I will tell you I understand where he's coming from. We need to get tough with China. We need to get tough with all the other countries that are dumping their goods into America without any fees.”
By July of that pre-election year, Bolling was referring to himself as “a fan” of Trump. Like any good fan, Bolling can rationalize almost anything that the object of his fandom does.
When Trump, in a wild exaggeration, claimed later in the primary that “thousands and thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrated on rooftops as the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, Bolling gave him a pass.
“Whether or not it was a thousand, thousands, a few hundred, a handful, who cares?” he asked on “The Five.” “There were Muslims.”
“I remember video,” Bolling insisted. “I don't remember if it was Pakistan or Patterson.”
Gutfeld informed him that it was Pakistan and said the number matters, but Bolling disagreed.
“It doesn't really matter,” he said, “because I know there were Muslims and Muslim groups who were happy that the World Trade Center came down.”
In March, after the failure of a Republican health-care bill, Bolling argued that “this is a win for Donald Trump” — even though Trump had backed the ill-fated legislation.
“It may look like a loss,” Bolling said, “and the Democrats are going to paint it like a loss, but it's a changing of the guard.”
He blamed the bill's failure on House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and reasoned that a defeat for “the establishment, old-school Republicans in D.C.” amounted to a win for Trump, who — again — was on Ryan and McConnell's team.
There is no such thing as a loss for Trump.
Bolling also is willing to heap undeserved credit on Trump, as he did earlier this month when comparing economic benchmarks such as the average home value and unemployment rate in the first quarter of Trump's presidency with those in the first quarter of Barack Obama's.
“Look at these numbers,” Bolling said. “It's insane.”
Perino countered that the comparison was “so unfair,” and Gutfeld pointed out that the improvement “is essentially all from Obama,” since early-term economic figures are more indicative of the conditions a president inherits than those he has helped to create.
“You could actually change it to Obama and Bush,” Perino added — and she was George W. Bush's press secretary.
On his new show, Bolling won't have to worry about fact-checks and pesky context from Perino and Gutfeld. That is great news for Trump.