In case you missed it, Greg Gutfeld is on book tour with a typical right-wing pundit screed about liberals - but peppered with his own special brand of what he and Fox Newsies think of as humor. Personally, I have always found Gutfeld to be an unfunny jerk and I have caught enough snatches of Red Eye and The Five to arrive at an educated opinion. And it's not about his politics. I often chuckle at the humor of Bill O'Reilly, Adam Carolla (someone I find outright despicable, as opposed to asinine) and Bernard McGuirk. So there was no way I was going to cough up an extra dime or even 10 minutes of my precious time on Gutfeld. But thanks to Alexander Zaitchik and his excellent review, he read it so the rest of us don't have to.
Apparently, Gutfeld and his right-wing supporters are hoping he'll become the right's Jon Stewart. It's possible they find Gutfeld truly funny and in the same league. But Zaitchik gets to the heart of how Gutfeld is really only at best amusing. And that seems to be all he's aiming for:
Gutfeld's winding road to right-wing punditry began as a student at UC-Berkeley during the 1980s. There he developed hatred for the left rooted in splenetic tendencies and cultural resentments more than any engagement with campus protest. Thirty years later, Gutfeld still doesn't know anything about the era he says forged his political identity. In The Joy of Hate, he shrugs off the debate over Reagan's Central America policies by calling it a bunch of "stupid crap" about which he says he'd "be lying if I told you I had a clue." This is just one of many similar asides, and after a while you start to wonder if it's part of an act when he jokes about not knowing the major combatants of World War II.Such self-denigrating honesty might not fortify Gutfeld's qualifications as an ascendant pundit, but it should at least have given his book a sole endearing quality. But it doesn't. The host of Fox News' The Five and Red Eye (and sometimes sub for Bill O'Reilly) isn't really being self-deprecating. He's bragging.
...The right is delusional if it thinks it can replicate the success of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert with Gutfeldian rightwing "irreverence." One of the reasons people are drawn to the Comedy Central shows aside from the jokes is they don't trust other news sources, and Fox News especially. Whatever tweaks Gutfeld may make to his formula in the future, he seems constitutionally (and institutionally) incapable of the basic fact checking, let alone the kind of serious research that goes into the best bits on the Daily Show. Gutfeld's book continues into print his televised talent as a happy vehicle for blatant disinformation -- on basic environmental issues, on major labor disputes, on the economic benefits of oil infrastructure. Leaving aside the content of his politics and the question of whether he's actually funny, this explains why Gutfeld will forever struggle with the demo, and will remain just another target for more popular comedic pundits.
What does it say about the future of conservatism that Fox News keeps expanding the role of a man-child with so little interest in or knowledge about politics?
But I'd argue that we also have to consider what this says about the future of television news if the top-rated cable "news" network finds this guy so beneficial to its lineup.
If nothing else, it almost certainly ensures that both Stewart and Colbert will remain forefront in our news cycles for the foreseeable future.