Washington — Conscientious conservative that I am, every afternoon I attempt to clear my mind of the day's claptrap and sprinkle it with a little levity by tuning in to Fox News' "The Five." It rarely lets me down. Sometimes I guffaw. Sometimes I merely snicker. All five of the participants have something to say that is refreshingly original, and sometimes one of them provokes thought even from someone so jaded as me. Yet, last week, the Five had an off day.
Possibly, it was the effect of the coronavirus hysteria. Possibly, it was something more sinister, say, Hillary's agents had injected a mild sedative into the Five's drinking water. Whatever it was, all five of the Five utterly bungled a very simple question. The question up for discussion was how each participant had spent the lonely hours of their coronavirus-induced solitary confinement.
They answered that they saw movies. They even named the movies. They had apparently watched television, presumably reruns and current shows. I cannot say, as I do not watch television, only "The Five" and Fox News. Not one of the Five recommended a book! It's possible I missed it, but I do not think so.
It was a perfect opportunity to help parents with the home-schooling projects that have now been thrust upon them by referring to books they had read. Or, rather, books that they had not read but wanted the young people in their audience to think they had read. There is nothing wrong with faking a question like this, particularly when it is faked to raise the literacy rate of young people.
Actually, I know at least two of the Five personally. In fact, Greg Gutfeld once worked for me. He even lifted weights with me down at the gym after work. Thus, I know he knows how to lie. We would trade lies frequently at the gym. Why could Greg not have mentioned that he had just read a great book on Winston Churchill by a friend of mine, Andrew Roberts? Roberts' "Churchill: Walking with Destiny" is probably the best one-volume work on the great man yet written, and it also includes practically every joke Winston ever uttered. The book is eminently serious yet very amusing.
Or why not claim to have read "Grant," a biography of the 18th president of the United States and the second most influential man, next to Abraham Lincoln, in saving the Union. Its author, Ron Chernow, is probably the greatest American biographer of his generation. His "George Washington" is also worth reading during this pandemic. The Ulysses S. Grant that Chernow disinters is a giant, a brilliant warrior, a great leader and a great friend to the freed slaves. What is more, Grant was a much better president than establishment historians recognize. Reading any of these three books while waiting out this infernal coronavirus would be very rewarding.
Yet maybe the reading public would like to read some great American fiction. Any of the Five could have looked dreamily into the camera and mentioned F. Scott Fitzgerald or William Faulkner or even Ernest (He-Man) Hemingway, quite possibly the best American novelist of all.
I would not expect Greg Gutfeld to claim he had read Fitzgerald or Faulkner. But he could probably get away with Hemingway. At any rate, I would suggest the next time the topic before the Five is what have they been doing during this enforced isolation, Greg might say he has been reading Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms." There is plenty of blood and guts in it, a vivid rendering of the Battle of Caporetto, and a very touching love story that even Greg might warm to. What else would I suggest that someone from "The Five" recommend? How about Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" or "Tender Is the Night"? From Faulkner I would suggest "The Bear" or "Absalom, Absalom!"
The fact that five of our stellar Fox performers would not suggest reading books during this dreadful period is very disheartening. I am sure it was an oversight. In the weeks to come, I like to think that the question will come up again and again on "The Five." Perhaps the other cable news shows will begin competing with Fox's quintuplets in a mad rush to erudition. Soon, every television viewer will be familiar with "War and Peace" and even "The Bible of Unspeakable Truths." That is Greg Gutfeld's latest.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author, most recently, of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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