'Fox & Friends' Host Brian Kilmeade on Being Accosted in N.Y. and Criticizing Trump
"I can never picture a scenario where the way they acted is OK," the Fox News host said of the comedy team that trailed and filmed him around town.
Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, has spent 20 years riding the subway around New York City without issue. Until last Thursday, when two men — part of a comedy team called "The Good Liars" — followed Kilmeade for about 30 minutes and filmed themselves lobbing questions at him and trying to get citizens to disparage him.
Kilmeade said he was accosted as he walked to the subway in midtown Manhattan, on the subway and in Penn Station, where the men left him alone for about 10 minutes before he boarded his usual commuter train back to his home in Long Island. A video was posted online of the encounter before being taken down.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kilmeade was defiant and said he's not altering his commute or lifestyle in any way. While he takes a company-provided car to work extremely early in the morning, he takes public transportation back home.
"I'm going to do the same thing every day," he said. "I'm going to still take the subway. I'm still taking the train home. That's the quickest way for me to get home. So, I'm doing that, and if people want to yell and scream, they can yell and scream."
Kilmeade continued: "If I'm physically in danger, I can take care of myself. So, that's my philosophy. I can never picture a scenario where the way they acted is OK. So, if people think it is, I am worried about them."
The host said he "never for a second" felt physically unsafe during the encounter. "If they had done something physical, I would have known exactly what to do," he said.
The two men who bothered Kilmeade, Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler, mocked him for his closeness to President Donald Trump and accused him of saying "lots of weird, kinda racisty stuff on the news a lot."
While the two men are not Democratic Party operatives, Kilmeade said he perceived the incident as a partisan attack. "They're not comedians. There's nothing funny about it," he said. "The only people they're for are Democrats, and they'll never be for Republicans."
Kilmeade compared his hecklers last Thursday to the boisterous protesters who stormed the Capitol and the Supreme Court last week to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. "There are so many people out there who are so emotional," he said. "How much more are we willing to accept?"
As co-host of the network's morning show since it launched in 1998, Kilmeade's profile has been raised in the first 20 months of Trump's tenure, as the president is known to watch the show regularly and has been interviewed by the hosts several times.
While the show is seen as a safe space for the president, Kilmeade has made headlines for occasionally dinging Trump in his daily commentary. Earlier this month, he said the president "chose to blow it" when he mocked Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford at a political rally. In August, he said that Omarosa Manigault-Newman "outsmarted" the president, who has "taken the bait."
Kilmeade thinks too much is made of his occasional critiques. "If they can find something that's negative toward President Trump, it's huge news," he said. "If I overgeneralize, it's huge news. But I'm not complaining. It's good to be in a job of consequence. Every day I don't take it for granted. ... So, I enjoy the opportunity to matter. And, I understand with that comes scrutiny and criticism, but I don't think we should ever accept what happened on Thursday."
He dismissed the oft-suggested notion that he's directly lobbying the president when he disagrees with him on one of his favorite shows. "It has to be pretty arrogant of me to think that I can shape the president, a 70-year-old billionaire's, opinion who just shocked the world with an unfathomable victory," he said. "I'm just a guy who's lucky enough to host a great show, and knows him. I laugh when people write that. ... I have a lot of respect for my opinions, but I don't think I shape the country's policy."
When Kilmeade makes mistakes, he said, Fox News gives him a chance to explain. "It's been a time of hyper-examination, but I think my company knows me by now, knows the type of person I am," he said. "If I was doing things that wrong, I don't think I would have been there for 20 years. I'm nobody's favor. I didn't know anybody when I got this job. I don't know anybody that keeps me in this job. It's all performance-based."