Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... Steve Doocy
February 20, 2012 8:00 PM
By Patricia Sheridan Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Viewers of Fox News know Steve Doocy as one of the more affable hosts on "Fox & Friends," the cable news morning show. An Emmy award winner, he's been spoofed on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" for his role on "Fox & Friends," but he gets the last laugh. The show is celebrating 10 years as the No. 1 morning show on cable television. That's another feather he can add to his cap along with being a New York Times best-selling author for "The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook."
You've won Emmys and other awards during your broadcast career, so how does this 10-year anniversary of "Fox & Friends" being No. 1 rank?
You know what, that is an excellent question. Nobody has ever put it that way. I would have to say to hit 10 years at No. 1 is substantial. Some of the Emmys that I won -- I would have an idea for a story, and I would go out and shoot the story and edit the story and air the story all in one day [laughing]. It would be like OK, so that's all it took to get an Emmy -- one day. Whereas this, you are really up against it every day. You are only as good as your last Nielsen number.
Do you think because it is so ephemeral, coupled with the fact that viewers have so many more options, that it is much harder to retain audience?
There is so much more going on than the person who is watching realizes. We're sitting there on the couch drinking as much coffee as we can possibly consume for three hours with computers in front of us to tell us what's going on. We've got those gizmos in our ears, the IFBs, where the producers are telling us what has gone haywire and how we have to adjust. Then in the corner of your eye, you've got this TV that shows what everybody else is doing.
You hate to get scooped. Generally that doesn't happen, but it's one of those things where you are going, "Wait a minute. Why is [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie over there? He is supposed to be with us tomorrow." Doing a news show three hours in length every day is like the spinning plates guy on the old "Ed Sullivan Show."
You have done hard news reporting and politics. Do you prefer that to features?
You know what Patricia, just between you and me, I looked you up online. When I was a regular news guy, I went to some terrible accidents. I would go follow the murder trail, and I just got to the point where I didn't need to see the hard news anymore. I went into what you do, which is more feature-oriented. I think you have to be a better storyteller. You have to be a better writer. I just found it ultimately more enjoyable.
So what about these early mornings. Were you always a morning person?
I get up every day at 3:27 a.m. The reason it is 3:27 is that I get up and turn on the hot water and by the time the water is hot in the shower the news on the half-hour on WCBS Radio is going to start. I turn off the shower and listen to the news and figure out what we will be talking about most probably.
As far as politics, do you think "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report" and "Saturday Night Live" can influence voters' perceptions?
I don't know. We had heard in the last election cycle that there were all these kids watching Comedy Central, and they are going to vote for -- in many cases -- Obama.
So do you think they influence perceptions, like when SNL and Tina Fey were doing those dead-on impressions of Sarah Palin?
Yeah, I don't think that was particularly helpful to her.
You have been spoofed by "SNL." How does that feel?
You know, I used to do a show in the "Saturday Night Live" studio, so for them to do it, it's a great compliment. We finally made it. In fact, I had lunch with a few of my cousins and two of my nephews, and they said, "How cool is that." It's pretty nutty.
I would imagine you have to have a thick skin.
That's just the nature of television, regardless of the job. There's always going to be somebody who didn't like the way you told the story, or they didn't like your point of view, or they don't like your hair.
Were you always a good sport about that or was it something you had to develop as your career took off?
I think part of it is just the way I was raised out in Kansas. My parents are very straightforward, honest folks. My dad is hilarious, the funniest guy I've ever known. You know, we all become parts of our parents later on in life, and I was lucky enough to latch onto their values but also their demeanor.
Speaking of family, I have to ask about your son, Peter. He is now with Fox. So were you concerned that people would think he got the job because of you?
It's funny. When Peter was 2, he sang on the stage of "Saturday Night Live" for 300 people during a show. After that, we were contacted by some people who wanted to know if Peter would like to be on a sitcom. Of course we didn't let him do it because that is just crazy. But going forward, you know he has a fantastic voice, and he's a good-looking kid. All his own hair [laughing] and he is just a great storyteller.
I said, "Look Peter, you can do anything you want to except go into television. It's a hard business where jobs are fleeting. Five years from now, I don't know if we're still going to watch TVs or if will be watching things on our shoe phone or what.
So one day he said, "Chris Matthews from MSNBC is bringing his 'Hardball' tour to Villanova. I'm going to ask him a question." I said, "Great." So that night we watched. Peter asked John McCain [a guest of Chris Matthews] a hilarious question, and John McCain never answered. There's over a minute of laughter.
So my bosses said, "Hey, why is he over there?" And I said, "Well, he's in college." So they said "He would be a great college-age reporter to report on stuff from their point of view." They talked Peter and me into "How about if he goes to the convention in a couple of months." He did. He went to the convention, and he did a fantastic job and they just said, "Look we have a lot of lawyers and he can always go back to law school, but here's an opportunity where he could start absolutely at the bottom doing the preliminary stuff, but we would like to have him represent that particular demographic." It took a little while to convince his mother and me, but ultimately it was his decision. He is doing great, actually.
He was lucky he had you. But you came up on your own, correct?
Just the regular way. I started in college at the radio station and then got a job with the NBC affiliate in Topeka [Kansas], where I did the weekend weather and then I did kind of the borscht belt of broadcasting. I got a call from NBC in Washington. They said, "We want you to come here and do feature stories for us." Next thing you know I moved.
So back to the future of television. In a crisis like 9/11, the first thing that most people do is turn on the television.
You can go on the air with an iPhone. In fact, Fox News reporters have these iPhones that can be live anywhere. It's amazing. You don't need the infrastructure anymore. When I remarked to Peter, it was about the delivery system. I don't know what it will be. Do you get TV over the Internet? Is it Wi-Fi? Does everybody get it? Is there a pipe, a wire or ultimately is it more like the iPad?
I mean with the iPad, who really thought something like that was going to work out? I heard, "Yeah, a digital tablet. It sounds like a computer." Who needs that? But I can't pry my wife's iPad out of her hand. She loves that thing, and when I use it, she can't pry it out of my hand. But that doesn't speak to where mass communication is going. People are still going to need to know what is going on, and they are going to need good storytellers telling good stories. I think as long as that is going on, Patricia, people like you and me will have something to do in the daytime. Ten years from now, I just don't know. There could be 1,000 channels, and you don't even have to pay for them.