Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

The Five Is Simply Bad Tee Vee – An Aunty Em Review

Reported by Aunty Em - July 12, 2011 -

With a hole in its schedule after the forced retirement of Glenn Beck, Fox “News” had months to come up with a replacement, but didn’t announce a decision until nearly the last minute. That’s why it is so inexplicable that the best thing it could come up with is “The Five.” The basic premise is simple: put 5 people around a table, bring up a one of the important issues of the day, and have them yell at each other until they’ve all made fools of themselves. Not one of the 5 rotating hosts disappointed in that regard. Andrea Tantaros, Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, Greg Gutfeld, and Bob Beckel were the five in question on the debut show (but Fox promises others as well). In keeping with Fox “News’” corporate mandate for “Unfair and Imbalanced” (while always professing the exact opposite for appearance's sake), it was four on the right against one Beckel on the left. For sheer decibel volume it resembled Crossfire without the bowtie, but came off more like Point/Counterpoint/Counterpoint/Counterpoint/Counterpoint. While Beckel did his best to hold his own, he hardly had a chance against the onslaught against him.

Here’s the full description of The Five on the official Fox “News” web site:

The hot topics that have everyone talking from the five voices that will have everyone listening. Don't miss 'The Five' as we discuss, debate and at times debunk the hot news stories, controversies and issues of the day! [Had I edited those two sentences, I would have added at least three commas, with two more Oxford commas (now, ironically, deemed optional by the Oxford style guide) dropped in for clarity and good measure. By my count that’s 5 missing commas. Or, in the alternative, I would have broken up some of that wordage into separate sentences, so it wouldn’t have needed all those commas. I know. English pedants suck and I are one. ]

While Bolling first introduced the show, The Five would appear to have no nominal host. Each segment appeared to be written and controlled by the person who introduced it, which rotated throughout the show. While I didn’t put a clock on the segments, they all seemed to be of approximately equal length. What never got equal length was the Liberal point-of-view. It was always four against one.

Early in the show there were some attempts at fireworks, but by the end of The Five they were all firing damp squibs. In the first segment, when Beckel was being run over by almost everybody—but especially Tanteros—he started pushing back, telling people not to interrupt him and let him finish. I could imagine the producer’s pre-show to Beckel: “Hold your ground. When they try and take the mike away from you stand up for yourself and don’t let them.” However, it wasn’t long before Tanteros found the perfect response, “The show is called The Five, not The One.” Oh, snap.

Whoever the brain trust was who made the decision to include Gutfeld in the mix should be asked to follow Beck out the door. Gutfeld is nothing more than an aging Frat Boy and virtually all his remarks were aging Frat Boy remarks. Little he interjected was designed to advance the conversation, one way or another. They were little rhetorical bombs, jokes, asides, and diversions—Think Groucho Marx, without the humor. Gutfeld was simply annoying to anyone looking for debate, like Bob Beckel. While Beckel seemed the most annoyed at Gutfeld, he didn’t seem to be the only one.

When, later in the show, Gutfeld introduced his individual segment, it was exactly like one of his weird, surreal, airy-fairy introductions he uses on Red Eye when he’s talking about unicorns and rainbows. How the other four managed to have a serious discussion after that is beyond all explanation.

Another area where sparks might develop on The Five in the future—and let’s face it, that’s the only thing that will make this train-wreck of a show worth watching—is the topic of former-president George W. Bush. Twice, to the extreme discomfort of Dana Perino, Tantaros launched into criticisms of Arbusto. The first time it was merely a glancing blow. The second time, however, Tantaros launched into a litany of grievances against Bush. They came off her tongue so deftly, so quickly, and without hesitation, that it seemed as if she’s been harboring these complaints for a while. Perino quickly brought the topic back to the subject at hand, without taking the bait. However, this is an area that bears watching and could provide some real fireworks in the future—especially if Tantaros is insistent on getting answers on Bush’s shortcomings. Conversely, I wouldn’t be surprised if they smooth this over between shows because on Fox “News” Bush is not the enemy—never has been—Obama is.

The closest things ever came to an actual debate, as opposed to swapping talking points, was during Beckel’s segment. Bob took on the Media Matters tax-exemption issue with a full-frontal assault. While never mentioning that Fox “News” has been promoting this phony IRS story, he wondered why Media Matters’ tax-exempt status was of such concern, yet no one is talking about the NRA’s tax-status. Beckel made the point that the NRA clearly comes out for and against candidates during elections, which is just the kind of political advocacy from which 501(3)c organizations are prohibited.

If anything on the first The Five program was said to have “made news,” Beckel’s segment would seem to qualify. The Right Wing, and other supporters of the 2nd Amendment, are already pushing back at Beckel, noting that the NRA has supported both Democrats and Republicans. However, the brand of candidate wasn’t Beckel’s main point at all, the NRA political advocacy was. Watch:

Speaking of Media Matters: It notes “Fox Debuts The Five With Litany Of Sexist Stereotypes,” which was also one of my complaints as well. With this many loose cannons on deck, it’s only a matter of time before one of them says something monumentally stupid. While it was mostly Frat Boy Gutfeld, the only two who have escaped this criticism (so far) are Perino and Bolling, but there’s still time for either of them to swallow foot. Here’s a Media Matters Mash Up of the greatest sexist stereotypes from The Five Show Number One.

Video courtesy Media Matters

Bottom line: The Five is a horrible excuse for a debate show and just bad television over all. While it may have benefited from chalkboards, it’s simply too many people talking over one another; too much trying to ‘top’ each other; too much volume; and too much heat without nearly enough light. However, when you look at Fox “News” programming overall, it fits right in. I don’t know how long The Five will survive, bit I predict it’s not long for this world.