Laura Ingraham Defends Trump's TV Habit and Says He's Not 'Afraid of Tough Questions' (Q&A)
The pundit's new show, 'The Ingraham Angle,' debuts on Fox News at 10 p.m. Monday.
A lot of the most important people in conservative politics and media want to make Laura Ingraham happy. On Oct. 19, a who's-who list of Trump-orbit politicians and well-known journalists flocked to the headquarters of Breitbart News to celebrate her new book on the president, Billionaire at the Barricades. On Wednesday night, octogenarian media mogul Rupert Murdoch came to Washington, D.C., to host a party to celebrate her new Fox News show, The Ingraham Angle, which debuts Monday night at 10 p.m.
Several Republican politicians made the walk from the U.S. Capitol to Charlie Palmer Steak to kiss Murdoch's ring, yes, but also to fete Ingraham. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who attended the party, said he would be one of Ingraham's first guests. "Laura is one of the best in the business, and I have no doubt she will be a huge success on her new show on the Fox News Channel," he told The Hollywood Reporter through his spokesman. Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, called Ingraham "a great conservative messenger who has been a consistent advocate for America’s heartland."
THR caught up with Ingraham on Friday, right after she finished a rehearsal for her TV show. During a wide-ranging conversation, Ingraham revealed that President Trump, whose television-watching habit she defended, will be a guest on her show early on — "hopefully after he gets back from Asia," she said.
What did it mean to you to have Rupert Murdoch throw you a launch party? What does it say about the network's support?
I think it was a sign that Fox takes this new lineup seriously. I'm obviously a new element of the lineup, and I'm a new voice in primetime. I take this really seriously as a woman, as a commentator, as a broadcaster, and I think they do as well. And we have a lot of great new women anchoring shows, and I think it's significant. And it's now up to me and our team to put on a great show every night.
I thought it was just going to be a few people, and we were going to raise a glass, and I was kind of overwhelmed by the event. It was so beautiful and so nice. I've never had any party like that thrown for something I was doing. So, that was really nice, I was really shocked and surprise.
Was the concept for your show something you've had in mind for a while now? How did this opportunity come about?
I think it just came to me. I mean, I wasn't planning on doing a show for Fox. I really hadn't thought I was going to do a show for Fox. But we started having conversations, and I think the opportunity just presented itself — and it was just timing, perfect timing. And I think they were looking to make some changes in the lineup, and the Fox viewers are pretty accustomed to me and pretty familiar with me, and apparently some of them actually like me. ... I wasn't angling for a show, if that's your question.
Does this feel like the biggest moment in your career? The biggest opportunity and platform you've had?
It is a huge opportunity, and I take it very seriously. And I feel very — I know it sounds hokey, but I do feel really humbled to have an opportunity to do this, and really grateful.... I feel really blessed, I feel really grateful, and I just want to do a really good job. Some people I'm sure on the Left won't like the show, but some might actually find things in the show — and things that we cover — that are interesting and compelling.
There were stories about you potentially joining the White House, and we've already seen a few people — including Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka — leave the White House and say they can have a bigger impact outside the administration. Do you think that your new position will allow you to have more of an impact than if you were working inside the system?
For me right now, this is exactly where I need to be. And I think probably my entire career in the law and media and politics and everything in between has led me to this moment.... I hope I was made to do this — I think I was. For me right now, it's the right place, and I think with the topics that we're going to hit, and the way we're going to hit them, with the guests we're going to have on, I think I'll have a lot bigger effect than I would if I was just one of 10 senior aides in the White House. That's my sense, at least.
There's some overlap, certainly, in the topics that Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, your lead-ins, address. Will you try to provide your own spin on these issues if you want to talk about them also? The Uranium One story, in particular, is getting a lot of play right now on Fox News.
I think so. The big issues of the day have to be addressed, but I come at things from my own perspective, my own experience in the law, in politics. And I think I have my own kind of unique take on things, and a lot of it I think will be grounded in my legal background, and will hit a lot of the issues that are bubbling up through the courts, which I think sometimes get short shrift in daily television.
Who in conservative media do you think Donald Trump listens to and trusts most?
You know, I don't really know. I'm not trying to be coy here. I don't know. I think he consumes a lot of information, which I think some people kind of poo-poo that, but I think it's much better for someone who's in his position to hear what both the commentators, anchors — to actually tune in to them, rather than tune them out. People do represent other viewpoints.... Those are real Americans. We're speaking for real people, real Americans. And I think it's good that the president is aware of what we're saying and how we're saying it, and he can disagree or agree, but I don't think there's anything wrong with being aware what's happening in the media. Rather than tune it all out.
...I think the president respects people who hold him accountable fairly, and are well-informed, and care about the country. I think he respects people in the media who have the best interest of America at heart, and who are willing to give his agenda a fair shake. I don't think he's afraid of tough questions. I don't think he shies away from that. I think he respects people who are well-informed, do their research, and ask tough questions and demand answers. I think he respects those people. And if I'm one of them — I don't know, you'd have to ask him.
To finish on something in the news: Sexual harassment has recently been dominating the conversation in Hollywood and within the media industry, as more and more allegations of misconduct are being made. Is this an issue you expect to discuss regularly on your show?
I will hit that issue and many more that we deal with as men and women in this increasingly complicated work and social scene that is amplified by social media and everything. You bet. I don't tolerate any of that stuff, so — I don't tolerate that. I have a 12-year-old daughter. I take this very seriously.
The issue certainly seems to be crossing party lines.
I think it affects every aspect of life, and I think most people knew it was there a long time ago, and now it's in the public consciousness. And I think it's a good thing. I do think we also have to remember that when you make allegations from 10 and 20 years ago, it's pretty difficult for anyone to defend themselves, which is what even liberals were saying today. So, you have to strike some balance of — an allegation with no evidentiary basis versus something different. So, I look at it as a legal matter more than anything else. It's a complicated issue, but we want work environments that are safe, productive and as happy as possible. That's what I hope for.