KENS anchor-turned-Fox News star reacts to Trump’s sex scandals
Faith, the Bible and family values dominate the soon-to-be-released autobiography of former San Antonio newscaster Ainsley Earhardt, now the co-host of famously conservative national morning show “Fox & Friends.”
Also prominent in “The Light Within Me,” which goes on sale Tuesday, are loving words about Fox News Channel, the network that eventually provided her with what she describes as her dream job, a seat on that curvy couch next to co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade.
She also writes admiringly of her show’s best known fan, President Donald Trump.
Her unwavering support of Trump on TV and in her book might register as odd to many considering Earhardt’s descriptions of her fervent efforts to stay on the straight-and-narrow. By contract, the morality of Trump’s actions has come into question repeatedly before and during his presidency.
In “The Light Within Me,” the South Carolina native attributes every major step taken in her 41 years — from her choice of a college major (journalism) to each rung of her broadcasting career, including two years as morning co-anchor on KENS and her subsequent 11 years on Fox News Channel — to the belief that her closest confidante, God, has shown her the right path.
Her memoir is even dedicated to “my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
A pivotal point in her life, Earhardt writes, was a weekend in the mountains with college pals. She relates how one night in 1997 changed her life.
“Music blared, a fire was going, I could smell marijuana. Everyone was drinking and laughing at things that suddenly struck me as inappropriate.
“Instead of being in the middle of the fun, I found myself thinking ‘What would Jesus think if He walked in right now? What would my Dad think?’ I thought about all the Christians in my life whom I adored and wondered what they would do in this situation.”
She walked out, sat down outside and prayed. Earhardt described her life up until then as being “trapped at the bottom of a slimy pit, and no matter how hard I tried to grip the sides and climb out, I kept falling in deeper.” But on that night “with snow falling around me, I felt God throw down a rope ladder and help me out of that pit once and for all. This is what I had been searching for all of my life.”
Such spiritual devotion helps define Earhardt; it also seems to fly in the face of her effusive praise of Trump.
In her pre-election chapter “Front Row-Seat to History,” about interviewing him in her first year on “Fox & Friends,” Earhardt describes Trump as a man “who genuinely cared about others.”
Yet he has been plagued by allegations of affairs and sexual misconduct throughout his three marriages and was recorded making lewd comments about women before his presidential run.
Most recently, adult film star Stormy Daniels has been speaking out in the media about attempts by Trump’s lawyer to silence her allegation that she had sex with the future president not long after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son.
“We’re all flawed, and no one is perfect,” Earhardt said when the topic was raised in a phone interview. “If you look at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, those were America’s choices. She lied about not having an email server.”
When reminded that it’s Trump, not Clinton, who’s leading the country, Earhardt conceded that she does “not condone adulterous behavior by any stretch of the imagination.
“But I think based on what I’ve heard from conservatives, they chose him because they believe in his policies. If you look at the Kennedys, if you look at Bill Clinton, I think our country has decided or learned that we are all flawed, that we all have imperfections, and if all of that were revealed about each one of us, we would all be tainted. No one is perfect.”
But does it bother her when we keep hearing about his indiscretions?
“Of course, if a man cheats on his wife, that bothers me,” she said. “If this did occur with Stormy Daniels, no one supports that. … (I) don’t know any woman who’d support that. We can look at Melania and feel bad for her.”
People support Trump because of his policies, his conservative justices, she added. “That’s what evangelicals have told me.”
She mentioned a poll stating that 78 percent of evangelicals still support the president.
“What I’m hearing from conservative friends is his policies matter more than what he does behind the scenes in his personal life.”
As for another major influencer in her book, the man who hired her, Roger Ailes, Earhardt is quite candid about her conflicted feelings about the longtime Fox News leader. His career, of course, ended in disgrace in 2016 amid shocking sexual harassment allegations by women who worked for him. He died the following year.
Although she writes fondly of Ailes, whom she says she’ll always be grateful to for the opportunity at Fox News, she states she was “shocked” and “saddened” to learn of the accusations that led to his fall. “From the first day I met him, he was always a father figure and a mentor. But clearly that was not the experience other women had with him, and upon hearing their stories, my heart broke for them.”
She even quotes a passage from the Bible: “Numbers 32:23 says ‘You may be sure that your sin will find you out.’”
On a lighter note, Earhardt brushed off the various TV spoofs of “Fox & Friends,” which poke fun at her and her co-hosts’ unfailing support of Trump and his policies, as well as indications that the president is a faithful viewer, such as his tweets about what they discuss.
Animated versions of the Fox trio are featured on Stephen Colbert’s comedy “Our Cartoon President” on Showtime, and as recently as February, “Saturday Night Live” lampooned the mutual admiration of Trump and Earhardt, Doocy and Kilmeade.
“Honestly, I just laugh,” she said. “That stuff doesn’t bother me. … I’m not here to make everyone love me. I wish they would.
”You have the choice, you don’t have to watch us. I think there is a need for what we do every morning, and I’m proud of the product we produce.”
Jeanne Jakle’s column appears Thursdays and Sundays in mySA. Read more of her columns here. | firstname.lastname@example.org | @JakleJ