On Tuesday, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade and his co-author Don Yaeger release their new book, “George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution.”
In an interview with The Daily Caller, Kilmeade talks about the book, what he thinks of being parodied on “Saturday Night Live” and much more:
With a background in sports and politics, why did you decide to write a history book and what drew you to this story specifically?
I always had a passion for history and have been studying and researching this story on-and-off since learning about it in 1989. I could not believe that George Washington had a citizen spy ring and was astounded to see the huge role they played in winning the Revolutionary War. At Fox, I get to meet many bright, well-read people and so few have ever heard of the Culper Ring. I thought if I could bring something new to this story and tell it in a way that gets the non-history buff intrigued, I could do their memories and exploits justice. Being able to team up with a great seasoned writer like Don Yaeger was the key piece of the puzzle and a certain go sign for me.
So what was Washington’s Secret Six?
After Washington learned of Nathan Hale’s death, he knew he had to turn to someone who both knew Long Island/New York City and had his trust. That led him to Hale’s college roommate Benjamin Tallmadge. Tallmadge would form the “Secret Six,” which came to include Abraham Woodhull (Culper Sr.), Robert Townsend (Culper Jr.), Austin Roe, Caleb Brewster, James Rivington and Agent 355 (whose name is not known but was the only female member).
What types of backgrounds did they come from?
They were so-called average patriots who were fiercely independent. Woodhull was a farmer, Townsend was a small business owner, Roe was a bar owner, Rivington was a newspaper owner and editor, Brewster was a seaman, and Agent 355 was a sophisticated upper middle-class woman.
The book’s subtitle states that Washington’s Secret Six “saved the American Revolution.” How so?
Let’s go over their key accomplishments and you make call:
1.) They reported the theft of the limited stock paper that was used to make their currency. This suggested to George Washington that the British planned on flooding the colonies with paper bills, which would have made their money worthless. Washington ultimately thwarted the British plan by changing the currency in 1780.
2.) Culper Jr. learned the Brits knew the French were pulling a huge portion of their Navy into Rhode Island and in turn were preparing to attack them before they hit shore. After being informed of the British plan, Washington decided to stage a fake attack on New York. Nervous they would lose New York, the Brits decided to keep their troops where they were, allowing the French to land safely.
3.) Agent 355 and Culper Jr. learned of a Continental general looking to switch sides to the British and alerted Washington and Tallmadge of the plot. The traitorous general was Benedict Arnold. He was about to trap Washington and hand over West Point to the British. As result of the information obtained by the Culper Ring, Tallmadge was able to head off the disaster.
4.) Rivington got the British naval code and battle plan prior to Yorktown. The information helped the Continental and French armies defeat the Brits in that decisive battle of the war.
What is the most interesting interview you have ever conducted — on TV or radio — and why?
I can’t pick just one or two, but I will say I love Arnold Schwarzenegger and always feel a thrill interviewing Sylvester Stallone. John McEnroe is the most honest and real person I have ever interviewed. But my first big interview will always standout the most: David Letterman. I love that guy and find his humor inspiring. In fact, I tried to mirror his career path — starting in news and doing stand-up comedy as well. Though I am not a network talk show host, I am happy with where I have been able to work for the last 15 years. I am really thrilled to be part of the top news network in the country and have the opportunity to co-host the top-rated morning show in the nation with two true pros like Steve Doocy and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. I’m doubly thrilled to also be able host my radio show, “Kilmeade & Friends.”
“Fox & Friends” often gets the “Saturday Night Live” treatment. Have you seen their parodies of the show? If so, what do you think of them?
Yes, I have. I have mixed feelings. I like the fact that I am ripped apart on a show that is iconic. Not one person has come up to me and said anything negative about it. But personally I don’t feel uplifted by being portrayed as fat and dumb — I am not fat!!
What three books most influenced your worldview?
My worldview comes from a collection of the books I have read, the people I have met and my conversations with my dad. But the books I think about most are David McCullough’s “John Adams,” Jack Cavanaugh’s “Tunney,” and Roger Ailes’ “You are the Message.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.