Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld isn’t scared of offending people

Jamie Weinstein | Senior Writer

In the world of television political commentary, no one is quite like Greg Gutfeld.

Co-host of Fox News’ “The Five” and host of the network’s hysterically funny late night show (actually, early morning show) “Red Eye,” Gutfeld has a seemingly natural talent for zoning in and cutting to the heart of a political story or cultural phenomenon in a humorous but biting way.

In his new book, “The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage,” Gutfeld utilizes that talent to tear apart what he sees as the modern cult of outrage.

“The joy of hate reflects people who get off pretending to hate something, or hate you in order to score political points,” he explained to The Daily Caller in an interview.

“I call them the ‘tolerati’ — you know, a group of people who claim to be tolerant, except when they run into someone who disagrees with them. Then the joyous hate comes out and it’s directed almost always at you, but never at anybody else on their side. And the book is designed to kind of expose the phony outrage, make fun of it, and also try to teach you how not to fall into the same trap.”

But Gutfeld said there is such a thing as legitimate outage. For instance, he is outraged by “the elimination of actual language in favor of euphemism.”

“[O]ne of the things I talk about in the book is the kind of the destruction of fact, the elimination of actual language in favor of euphemism,” he explained.

“So what to me is outrageous is calling Fort Hood ‘workplace violence.’ And I see that as a trend in the way the administration manipulates language. I mean look at Benghazi; Benghazi is the same thing. That was called a ‘spontaneous mob.’ Both of these things, whether it’s Fort Hood or Benghazi, were acts of terror, but people were scared to say that out of fear of being labeled Islamophobic. I call this Islamophobia-phobia, the fear of being perceived as Islamophobic. Which is basically a fear of being accused of hurting feelings. So we’re kind of in a state now where our country is scared of offending people who don’t like you.”

The “Joy of Hate” isn’t merely a book; it’s a movement — at least, if a bus tour can be considered a movement. Gutfeld’s book bus tour starts in Coral Gables, Florida on Nov. 28 and goes all throughout the South, because that’s where he was told his “audience would be — or people that would like my book, I guess.”

He doesn’t think people in San Francisco — near where he grew up — would appreciate his book?

“Actually, when I was in LA this weekend, I met a lot of fans,” Gutfeld shot back. “You know what it is? You don’t think there are a lot of fans there. It’s just that they don’t speak up! You know, they are not as open — they’re in the closet.”

See TheDC’s full interview with Gutfeld below:

Explain the title, “The Joy of Hate,” and how can one triumph over whiners in the age of phony outrage?

The joy of hate reflects people who get off pretending to hate something, or hate you in order to score political points. I call them the “Tolerati” — you know, a group of people who claim to be tolerant except when they run into someone who disagrees with them. Then the joyous hate comes out, and it’s directed almost always at you, but never at anybody else on their side. And the book is designed to kind of expose the phony outrage, make fun of it, and also try to teach you how not to fall into the same trap. Because I’m guilty of it. I mean, I got over it. But a few years ago, you know, I see some kind of political pundit on the left say something I don’t like, and I’d start screaming and yelling. And maybe I wouldn’t scream and yell as much if it happened on my side, and I realized that’s hypocritical. And that you should cast a jaundiced eye on people who are constantly outraged, because it’s impossible to be mad all the time. It’s psychologically impossible and it’s ultimately damaging to your brain.

 Is there legitimate outrage? If so, what does that look like? And what outrages you?

Well, you know what, one of the things I talk about in the book is the — kind of the destruction of fact, the elimination of actual language in favor of euphemism. So what to me is outrageous is calling the Fort Hood [terrorist attack] “workplace violence.” And I see that as a trend in the way the administration manipulates language. I mean, look at Benghazi; Benghazi is the same thing. That was called a “spontaneous mob.” Both of these things, whether it’s Fort Hood or Benghazi, were acts of terror, but people were scared to say that out of fear of being labeled Islamophobic. I call this Islamophobia-phobia, the fear of being perceived as Islamophobic. Which is basically a fear of being accused of hurting feelings. So we’re kind of in a state now where our country is scared of offending people who don’t like you.

Do you see a phony outrage industry? Is there someone who’s profiting off of this, you think?

I think it’s a great way to generate hits. It’s a great way to generate money. I know that if I say something that’s considered outrageous, a group will take it, create an email blast, and use me to raise money or to do whatever, to build their profile. I do think people use it to elevate their platform while demeaning yours. And it happens, yeah, it happens constantly and everywhere. I try to ignore it. Again, one of the meanings of the joy of hate, is that it feels good to get angry. It’s like an anger gym. You know, you go and work out your anger muscles. … I try to stop myself before I get too angry. It’s like when you sit around and you’re reading a blog and you read comments — it’s so easy to get pissed off. When you really shouldn’t, you should actually go out to a bar and get drunk with friends. That’s far more constructive than getting angry at people who are trying to get you angry.

You mention in the book that the Internet has helped facilitate this phony outrage industry. Do you think Internet has been a net positive or a net negative, considering that?

This is a good question because I think it causes you to expend a lot of psychological energy on people you shouldn’t care about. You shouldn’t care if somebody doesn’t like you, unless it’s your wife or members of your family or people that you work with. Now, the net gain from this is, maybe it reduces the actual physical hate that might happen in real life. Like if I’m online and I’m directing all my hatred at you over something you said about me, maybe I won’t get in a fist fight at a bar. It could be replacing actual hate, but I’m not so sure. I think it’s more like a Prius of hate, in the sense that it’s your second car of hate. It doesn’t replace the primary vehicle of hate. Do you follow? I just came up with that, so I don’t even know if that’s real. But I like the idea of online hate is the equivalent of a Prius of anger. Because nobody buys electric cars as their primary vehicle, so nobody uses online hate as their primary hate. Does that make sense? It probably doesn’t, but I like it.

So one of the big objects of outrage for the left is Fox News, where you work. I think you call it the Death Star in the book. Why do liberals hate Fox News so much? For instance, the liberal commentator Andrew Sullivan recently said, “Fox News has to be demonized and cut off.” What explains this outrage at Fox? 

It’s like the new kid on the block. They never had to deal with an opposing viewpoint. It’s whining — it’s the worst kind of whining. If Andrew Sullivan is so confident in his point of view, why does he feel so threatened by Fox News? I mean, you know, where is the tolerance for an opposing point of view? That’s what kills me. Before there was Fox, there wasn’t fair and balanced reporting. And now that they’ve got it, they should be grateful. But instead it’s like — I’ve used this metaphor over and over again to the point that I’m even sick of it — but it’s like before Fox, they had the playground, they had the ball, they had the audience, they had the refs, they had the teams. They owned everything! And then, this new kid comes into town and just wipes the floor with them, and they’re mad. That’s all it is. But they should welcome it. They should welcome the competition. But they don’t. That’s the folly of the so-called tolerant — they can’t stand an opposing point of the view.

You dedicated the book to your friend, the late Andrew Breitbart. What did he mean to you? And what do you think he would have thought about this book?

I hope he would have liked it. I mean, we talked about this all the time. He was the most open-minded, non-serious serious person I’ve ever met in my life. As angry as he appeared to be, it was always in fun. And I think that really confused the left. I think it was probably the first time you saw kind-of an Abbie Hoffman-esque conservative. Somebody that was pulling people’s leg while saying something serious and having a good time. And I think that upset a lot of people and so what you saw was some really serious outrage and bitter insults and death threats directed at him and he rolled with it! And I think that’s what the book is about. It’s about this phenomenon of irrational, phony hatred and just kind of laughing at it.

Your book bus tour starts November 28 in Coral Gables, Florida and then goes throughout the South. Is there a reason you decided to focus the book tour on the South? 

I guess they said that’s where my audience would be! Or people that would like my book, I guess.

You don’t think your home area of San Francisco would have been good? 

Actually, when I was in LA this weekend, I met a lot of fans. You know what it is? You don’t think there are a lot of fans there. It’s just that they don’t speak up! You know, they are not as open — they’re in the closet.

Any plans for another book after this one? 

Yes I do. I won’t tell you what it is. But it’s going to be a good one. And it’s something I started thinking about while I was writing this one and I was getting more excited. But I’m going to start working on that one, hopefully in a couple of weeks! And who knows, maybe it’ll be out in a year or so. But right now I’m just concentrating on spreading hate.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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