Just over two years on the air, Fox News Channel’s The Five airs its 555th show tonight. It debuted July 11, 2011 as a replacement for Glenn Beck and was made a permanent part of the Fox News lineup in October 2011. The daily one-hour roundtable with rotating hosts has proven both a ratings winner and a controversy magnet for the cable news network — and we’re talking about the home of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity here. The Five has seen its ratings rise 50% rise since launch, and for the past four consecutive months it has eclipsed Hannity in viewership, making it the second most watched show on cable news after The O’Reilly Factor. With an average of 2 million viewers a night and 324,000 in the news demo, The Five also soundly wins its time slot against rivals CNN and MSNBC. Deadline spoke with some of the hosts of The Five about CBS anchor Scott Pelley’s slam of cable news, Jeff Zucker, Hollywood failings and Jimmy Kimmel’s viral video scam.
DEADLINE: Earlier this summer in an interview I did with Scott Pelley, the CBS anchor slammed cable news networks as getting “one small part of the viewership” and content to “be happy with that 200,000 viewers, 300,000 viewers that they have.” A lot of our commenters took him to town for so dramatically downplaying cable news’ audience. Ring true to you guys?
GREG GUTFELD: Yeah, first off, who is Scott Pelley? Now, does he work in media or soccer? Whatever, he’s entitled to his opinion and I totally support him. And he was a really good soccer player.
BOB BECKEL: I just thought it was a cheap shot. Why did he have to go out of his way to say that? That’s the thing that bothers me. For a guy that’s a reporter and the anchor of the CBS News to say 200,000 people, do your homework. Look at it and say, “Gee, The Five has over 2 million people!” Now, why does he have to make that gratuitous comment? The fact of the matter is, when Walter Cronkite led CBS, they had twice the audience they got now, probably more. No they’ve done a good job of getting it down to, what is it, 7 million now? And we have, on any given day, 2 million-plus. If you do our repeat it’s about 2.5 million, so we ain’t to far behind that boy and he’s got exposure of a 100% of the TVs in the country and we don’t. So let him keep talking like that, that’s fine. He’s trying hold onto that job and if he wants to hold onto the job, good for him. I don’t watch him.
Related: CBS News’ Scott Pelley On Why Cable News Doesn’t Matter As Much As We Think
DEADLINE: Why do you think the networks have seen such a decline?
BECKEL: Because I think they’re fixed to a certain hour and the stuff that they do is very repetitive. By the time people get to them, if they’ve gone to cable, they’ve gotten all the news they need to get. So I don’t think there’s anything that’s surprising about the formula. There’re just fewer and fewer people.
DEADLINE: Back in the cable news network world, CNN has been trying out various Five-like formats since Jeff Zucker took over. There was the short-lived (Get To) The Point and now they’re doing it again with a revamped later version of Anderson Cooper 360. Can it work for them?
ERIC BOLLING: Kimberly and I were sitting at the White House Correspondents Dinner — we happened to be back to back with Zucker, who turned around and leaned over to us and said, unprompted, “I love The Five. I watch The Five.” And his point was it isn’t, you know, rocket science, but what he said was, “Roger Ailes figured out that the tube still works,” meaning that everyone’s calling for the demise of cable news but The Five has proven that at 5 o’clock we can put 2.5 million to 3 million viewers up and if you give the viewer what they want, meaning chemistry and fun and delivery and information and entertainment all at once, they’re going to come. So my guess is that he’s going to keep trying to duplicate it in some way, shape or form.
DEADLINE: Greg, this June, you were very critical of a trailer for HBO’s then-upcoming season of The Newsroom. You talked about its characterization of Tea Party members and the Occupy Wall Street movement. At that time, I remember you said, Hollywood gets everything wrong again. What did you mean by that?
GUTFELD: Oh wait, let me think, Hollywood gets everything wrong. They get everything wrong. They are never right on anything. They have such a fundamental distaste for people who do not share their assumptions about the world that whenever they run into somebody who is different from them, they mock or ridicule them. Hence the Tea Party. None of those writers know anybody who’s in the Tea Party. Everybody at this table knows somebody who’s in the Tea Party. Even Bob knows people in the Tea Party. But nobody on that show has a clue about what they consider to be the opposition. They’re wrong.
KIMBERLY GUIFOLYE: And they hate them.
GUTFELD: Yeah, they hate them. They don’t think they’re wrong; they think they’re evil.
BECKEL: You got two people here who worked at the West Wing, Dana and myself and I don’t think it stands to credibility, do you think Dana?
DANA PERINO: I just have a picture of me at the podium going, let me consider that very carefully. I think that one of the recent Hollywood productions that — actually it was not Hollywood, but the Netflix production of House Of Cards, for example. On that show, it seemed to me to break out of the typical mold that you would see that every conservative always had. Eric said something not too long ago that was about The Muppets movie and the bad CEO was always a guy from some oil company and he was always, what was his name?
BOLLING: Tex Rich-Man who wanted to bring down the Muppet Studio to drill for oil.
ANDREA TANTAROS: It’s very typical of Hollywood’s thinking. And it’s just really predictable too. And I think you look at Hollywood, these box office movies are flopping. I mean, there hasn’t been an original thought coming out of Hollywood since the ’80s.
GUTFELD: Since Clueless.
TANTAROS: Yeah, since Clueless!
DEADLINE: One thing that did come out of Hollywood literally was the twerking girl on fire video that Jimmy Kimmel put up online and pranked various news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, Today and several local Fox stations as well. Why do you think people fell for it?
GUTFELD: Kimmel is a smart dude because everything he does has a lesson built into it. He doesn’t just waste your time. In this case he showed us how easy it is to be tricked. And that’s a valuable lesson these days. There are lots of hoaxes in life, and it pays to be skeptical.
DEADLINE: We’ve seen a lot of changes at Fox News in recent months. Megyn Kelly will now be going over to primetime later this year. The View’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck is joining Fox & Friends and Gretchen Carlson is moving to her own daytime show. So with all that, are we going see any changes coming up soon on The Five?
GUIFOYLE: We don’t know of any but then again, we didn’t know that the show was going to be a permanent show when we started it.