In 2007, Eric Bolling was new to Fox News; after a successful run as an oil trader on Wall Street, he had landed a job as a financial analyst on Fox Business. The jauntily named show he hosted, Happy Hour, was a far cry from the incendiary, conservative rabble-rousing for which he’d later become known, but his square jaw and frat boy demeanor endeared him to network higher-ups, and when Happy Hour was canceled in 2010, he secured a slot on the current-affairs show The Five.
Seven years later, Bolling almost lost his position atop the conservative media food chain. In August 2017, The Huffington Post reported that he had sent a picture of his genitalia to multiple colleagues. That could have been the end of his career, but now, having left Fox, Bolling hosts not one but two new news shows for the robustly Trumpian local news empire Sinclair and for Glenn Beck’s online playground of reaction, The Blaze. On these shows, he conducts interviews with such grifters as Roger Stone and, for sport, chases liberal tourists around Washington with his “good friend,” the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. In one April episode, Bolling snuck onto the roof of the Capitol, pointed at his designer shoes, and announced his plan to “Make America Gucci Again.”
Bolling’s metamorphosis from sober Manhattan business pundit into right-wing firebrand of course recapitulates in miniature the career arc of President Donald Trump. Bolling first distinguished himself as a talking head by swiping at Obama and the liberal agenda: In 2011, he blasted The Muppets for “teaching our kids class warfare” and pushed birtherism; and in 2012, when the rapper Common visited the White House, he criticized the president for having a “hoodlum in the hizzouse.” He was far from the only Fox star to spew such rhetoric, but he was one of the first to hitch his wagon to Trump’s presidential campaign. It was Bolling’s kinship with the president that rescued his career after Fox nudged him out. With his new Sinclair and Blaze gigs, he’s settled into regular rotation as an irate, flexible mouthpiece for white-guy grievance, deriding climate change as a “myth” and dismissing contempt of Congress as “laughable.”
That Bolling could resurrect his career after a #MeToo scandal bears eloquent testimony to just how much Trump has changed conservative media. A history of spouting bigotry and sending nudes is no longer a liability—it’s very nearly a qualification. Even if Bolling one day proves too noxious for television, he can always pivot, much as Trump himself did, to an industry with even lower standards. In a 2017 interview, he said, “When the lights go down on my TV career, the next step is running for Senate.”