Greg Gutfeld, subversive.
Aug 2, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 43 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Gutfeld himself has become a cult figure, which is why a legit publishing house like Grand Central has put out The Bible of Unspeakable Truths, a collection of his random writings—his feuilletons, as Gutfeld would never call them in a million years. Aside from the nightly interview with a talking copy of the New York Times and the earnest comments from the cherry-lipped lemon tarts brought in from the Fox newsroom, the highlight of Red Eye is usually the “Gregalogue,” a 90-second editorial, or rant, in which the host takes off after whatever news item or personage has annoyed him that day. Many Gregalogues are reprinted here, in revised, unexpurgated form, and only a handful would be appropriate for quotation in a Books & Arts section like this one. It turns out that George Carlin was wrong: There are more than seven words you can’t say on television, and they’re all here.
A lot of readers will object to some of these pieces—well, many of these pieces—most, actually—on grounds of aesthetics or taste. It’s worth mentioning, in rebuttal, that Gutfeld’s stuff is also an artifact of a degraded era. If the Atlantic Monthly, the magazine of William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, and E. B. White, can serve as a platform from which its senior editor writes—candidly!—of a “final orgasm that drained every last drop of desire or need from my body,” surely the conservative movement can tolerate a writer who toys in public with the idea of going to Thailand as a sex tourist. At least the conservative guy is joking.
Gutfeld’s conservatism is mostly negative—his catalogue of dislikes ranges from Doonesbury to Mensa to any tattoo not found on a longshoreman—but it’s not nihilistic. Flip it over and you’ll find a cogent, nontraditional defense of traditional wisdom. The closest he comes to a statement of principles is this:
Then he makes a joke about Tom Sizemore and bathrooms.
Gutfeld is often referred to as a conservative/libertarian version of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. The comparison to Maher, an idiot, is an insult to Gutfeld, but Stewart’s style and skill bring him nearer the mark. As a conservative, the host of Red Eye doesn’t enjoy the limitless slack given the host of the Daily Show, who can flatter his audience, reaffirm their hidden assumptions, grovel before preferred presidential candidates, and still manage to be labeled daring and even subversive, a real teller of truth-to-power. Gutfeld’s stuff actually is subversive, a stink bomb hurled into every faculty lounge, mainstream newsroom, movie studio, and nonprofit boardroom in America. He’s the most dangerous man on television. And unlike Stewart, he writes his own material.
Andrew Ferguson is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and the author of Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College.