Ainsley Earhardt has been to the White House twice in the past two weeks — her upcoming holiday special includes a segment on presidential decorations, including the Blue Room’s 19 1/2-foot tree. And she’s excited to talk about that.
But if you really want to get her excited, ask the “Fox & Friends” cohost and Carolina native about the fake fir that went up Wednesday in her daughter’s room in their New York City home.
“She’s had a pink Christmas tree in her room every year since she was born,” says Earhardt, mom to Hayden, who turned 3 this month. “It’s so cute. She decorates it with ornaments she makes at school, we have ballerina ornaments for her, other little ornaments that just mean a lot, little animals and things that she loves. It’s totally pink and it’s probably 5 feet tall. So it’s pretty substantial. She loves it.”
On the heels of an idyllic Thanksgiving spent around the fireplace with Hayden, her parents and other family members in a rented house in Asheville, Earhardt says her and Hayden’s Christmas plans include taking a week off to celebrate in her hometown of Columbia, S.C. (where she also earned her degree in journalism, at the University of South Carolina).
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In between the holidays, she has business to attend to. There’s the “Fox & Friends” show she co-hosts with Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, 6-9 a.m. weekdays on Fox News Channel, of course. But there’s also “Ainsley’s Christmas Special,” a two-hour program premiering Dec. 4 that can only be viewed on the brand-new-this-week Fox Nation streaming service.
The special will feature “stories that mean a lot to me,” including pieces on Building Homes for Heroes, which builds specially modified homes for veterans that help them live independently; Macy’s “Believe” campaign, which takes kids’ letters to Santa and donates millions to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America; as well as a tour of the White House Christmas decorations, guided by First Lady Melania Trump. The latter segment also spotlights Larry Smith, who owns the tree farm — a little more than two hours away from Charlotte, in Newland — from which the presidential tree was harvested.
(A programming note: Only small parts of Earhardt’s interview with Melania Trump will be included in the Christmas special. Longer portions will air during “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning.)
Fox Nation, by the way, launched Tuesday as Fox News Channel’s “Over-the-Top (OTT) opinion platform,” with a “focus primarily on right-leaning commentary,” according to the network. Designed to “appeal to the FOX News super fan,” the service will offer exclusive digital content from its corps of personalities at a cost of $5.99 per month or $64.99 per year.
We used this as a jumping-off point for a conversation with Earhardt about what her job at the cable news network has become since she came on as a correspondent in 2007. (Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.)
Q. What would you call yourself when it comes to your role with Fox News? Because there are times when you have your straight-journalist hat on — say, when you’re interviewing the president of the United States — but you’re also a talk show host, a TV personality, and lots of your viewers consider you a role model. How do you see yourself?
I think my life has evolved so much, and changed. But I consider myself, first and foremost, a Christian. And my gosh, I am so far from perfect. I need Christ. So that, to me, is my number one goal. I want to serve him, and I want to be in the Word constantly. There are times when I’m stronger than I am other times, and right now, I feel really strong. I’ve been just really diving into the Word, and some serious soul-searching Bible studies. I take it very seriously.
Being a mother is my second role. I want to be a wonderful Christian mom. I want to raise her in a godly home, and I want to teach her to love others, and to know right from wrong, and to be the best that she can be. I want her to know that she has a purpose, and that God loves her, and that I love her and will do anything in my power to protect her, and to give her the best life possible.
When it comes to my job? I’m really grateful that I have this opportunity. This was my goal, to be a morning show host. I went to journalism school, then I ended up at Fox News Channel, and I’m now anchoring a show where we are allowed to give our opinion — and we do voice our opinions. So I consider myself an opinion host on “Fox & Friends.”
We do ask fair questions and tough questions. I want to be taken seriously. I want to be smart and well-read. I want be accurate. I understand the responsibility that goes with that. We’re waking up millions of people around the country — if not around the world — every single day. I don’t take that lightly.
Q. I read a 2017 profile about you in Business Insider that quoted you as saying, “I’m calling it like I see it. If I watch other networks it can be frustrating to see a one-sided story. We are inflicting opinion in our newscasts like never before. That was never done and never taught in our journalism classes.”
Well, when I was in school and when I was in local news, I mean, we covered the news. We told this side and that side. I try to still do that today. But news has changed. ... And I’m on a show where we are allowed to — or not “allowed” — we do voice our opinions. I mean, that’s OK. I don’t want anyone to believe it’s a bad thing. People shouldn’t be critical of that. You’re allowed to have an opinion. That’s what makes America great.
Q. We’re seeing a lot more instances in which things media personalities say on news networks about politics get turned into stories — where people who are making a living talking about stories of the day get turned into the stories of the day. How do you feel about that? For example, this week, there was a discussion on “Fox & Friends” about the use of tear gas at the border in San Ysidro, and you said, “If you don’t want a speeding ticket, don’t speed.” Within hours I saw a story that said: “Ainsley Earhardt had little room for empathy Monday when addressing the mothers and diaper-clad infants who were reportedly stung by tear gas and pepper spray...”
Well, if you watch the show, and if you watch all three hours, I’ve said continuously, “Wow, these pictures of the moms with their babies, it’s really hard.” I mean, there’s a picture on the front cover of most publications of a mother with her two children. One little girl has flip flops, one is barefoot, they’re in diapers — it breaks my heart. And she’s wearing an Elsa and Anna T-shirt, and she’s trying to run from the tear gas. And I said this on air: Every mother can relate to that, especially when you have children my daughter’s age, because she loves Elsa and Anna. You see this mom who wants to give her children a better life. Of course, it breaks my heart. I’m a Christian first. They’re God’s children. My gosh, who can’t look at that and have empathy for them?
But we had (Fox News commentator) Dan Bongino on, saying something to the effect of: Don’t rush the border if you don’t want to get caught, or if you don’t want the tear gas. So I do see both sides to that. ... I think we all agree that there needs to be reform, it doesn’t need to be as long of a process to get into our country, we do need to vet people; but families need to stay together, and yeah, of course it’s difficult to watch those pictures.
... (Fox News reporter) Griff (Jenkins) interviewed a guy on the border today, and I kept watching it thinking, “That’s God’s child.” I was saying a prayer for that man who wants to come to America for work. Gosh, it breaks my heart. Because I have a great job, and I can put food on the table, and I can send my daughter to college, and I’m so grateful. I had to work really hard to get there. America allowed me to do that, and I had a wonderful family and a dad who put me through college. So I think about that. I think, “God, thank you for putting me in the situation that you did.” But I have empathy for other people who have a tougher route.
I think every American can see all sides. It’s a hard topic. It really is.
Q. I was just using that as an example — I was more curious about your thoughts about newspeople being turned into newsmakers.
We don’t want be the news. When we’re reporting the news, you don’t want to become the news. But ... sometimes you do.
Q. And when that happens ... do you read articles about yourself?
You know, I’m so busy, to be honest with you. ... I do not have time to read any of the press about what’s going on in my life. I’m sure there are tabloids and headlines, I just don’t have time for it. I try to focus on what my priorities are. ... I will read your article, though. (Laughs.) If I participated in the interview, I’ll obviously read those. But I just don’t really have the time for the rest of it.
Q. Now that you’ve had the opportunity to do it, do you think you’d find it hard to go into a situation where you weren’t allowed to express your opinion?
I really, truly give it to God. I recently said, “God, I want to be in your will.” I’ve been doing a lot of research about being in God’s will, and the Bible says you have to have the mind of Christ in order to figure out what the will of God is for your life. So I’m trying to just train my mind to always think positive, Christian thoughts. And that takes a long time. ... I just want to be in God’s will. Wherever that is.
If that means down the road he changes my course, then that’s where I want to be. ... If I’m in his will, he’ll give me the strength and the steps to conquer anything.