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President-elect Donald Trump prizes loyalty, and he hasn’t forgotten many of his top boosters at Fox News.
While Trump continues to tap network personalities to top administration posts, one Fox News star who will remain at the network stands poised to also personally benefit from Trump’s ascension to the presidency: Eric Bolling.
Along with Sean Hannity, Bolling emerged as one of Trump’s most vocal early supporters on Fox News, claiming he knew the real-estate magnate would win as soon as he saw him descending down the escalator at Trump Tower to deliver his announcement address.
And following Trump’s upset victory, the Fox News host is ready to flex his connections in the Trump administration to juice ratings and make news.
In a recent interview with Business Insider, Bolling said that particularly when he fills in for Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, he is able to nab high-profile guests from the administration because of his close relationship with Trump and many of those in the president-elect’s orbit.
“I am fortunate enough to have a close relationship with the incoming administration and it’s great for me because frankly, he rates very well,” Bolling said. “And so I’m able to talk to some of my friends, and they’ll come on and — ‘Hey let’s talk about this Russian hacking thing,’ or ‘Let’s talk about voter fraud,’ or ‘Let’s talk about what the policy is on taxes,’ and I’m able to call someone and they’ll come on, and they’ll give some good analysis.”
Bolling has a personal connection to Trump himself.
The Fox News host met Trump on the set of “The Apprentice” over a decade ago, when the two were introduced by a mutual friend, producer Mark Burnett. Ever since, the New York businessman invited Bolling to events over the years as he continued to gain prominence as a conservative media commentator.
Bolling’s on-air advocacy of Trump’s positions certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the president-elect’s transition team. The Fox News host visited Trump Tower in November amid discussions that he could lead the Department of Commerce, though the job eventually went to Wilbur Ross.
Bolling largely dismissed the likelihood that he would accept any other posts in the administration, saying he is “thrilled” with his job at Fox News.
“I absolutely adore being one of the most watched voices of TV,” Bolling said when asked if he would accept a post in the incoming administration. “So to answer that — I don’t have anything working with the administration.”
He added: “If Donald himself said, ‘I’ve got to have you, because we’re going to do some policy things,’ that — who wouldn’t work directly with the president? But outside of that — he has some extremely capable people advising him. He doesn’t need Eric Bolling.”
Though Bolling was not selected for a post, Trump is already floating economic ideas that Bolling, a former commodities trader who began his media career as a panelist on CNBC, championed during President Barack Obama’s administration. For instance, Trump said he wants to create a repatriation tax holiday to allow companies to bring back profits generated overseas at a lower tax rate, a plan similar to one Bolling proposed on his Fox Business show in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
And while he’s recently adopted economic populist rhetoric, Bolling also enthusiastically embraced Trump’s decision to fill top roles in his administration with Goldman Sachs executives, despite the president-elect’s vilification of the investment bank during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In fact, Bolling said the US was “fortunate” Trump filled his administration with figures like Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn and former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin, whom Bolling noted were “willing to walk away from a massive payday to go serve the country.”
“There will be people who say, ‘Oh, Goldman Sachs, I can’t stand Goldman Sachs’ until they start seeing the turnaround in the economy, until they start seeing 2-3% growth, wages going up, more business investment coming through the country,” Bolling said.
He continued: “I look at it like a football game: If I can get the best athletes on the field, you may not like where they went to college, but if I’ve got the best athletes on the field, there’s a good chance I’m going to win the football game. And I think that’s what it is on a global basis. If we’re going to compete with China, some of the emerging economies, some of the people who want to see us fail, we’ve got the smartest minds in the room dictating policy on our side. I love this idea. I may not like where they came from, but I like who they are, and I like that they’re successful.”
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Bolling’s enthusiastic support for Trump hasn’t always sat well even with his conservative co-hosts.
“The Five” co-host Greg Gutfeld dubbed Bolling a Trump “apologist” at multiple points during the campaign, describing the host’s pro-Trump spin as “Trump-splaining.” Cohost Dana Perino also told Business Insider in October that one of her proudest moments of the election came when she told Bolling that it was a “disservice” to the then-nominee’s supporters to tell them that the polls were not as important as the size of the crowds at Trump’s rallies.
“We’re very friendly, and he knows I was there for him since day one, and took a lot of heat for being so pro-Trump since day one. So he knows I’m loyal, he’s loyal to me, he’s been very good to me,” Bolling said of his defense of Trump.
And while he often scores high-profile interviews with top figures close to Trump, his open allegiance to the incoming administration often make the interviews a two-sided exchange about the merits of Trump’s positions and instincts.
In a December interview with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, at one point, Bolling ended a question by claiming simply that “Trump was right” to label a December attack in Berlin an act of “radical Islamic terrorism.”
“He’s right again,” Conway responded.
The Fox host’s acknowledgment of his coziness with the incoming administration also comes at a time when his star is already rising at the network.
He’s emerged as workhorse, often taping multiple shows a day when filling in for hosts Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. He’s also slated to return as host the network’s New Year’s Eve special with “The Five” cohost Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Though it’s unclear whether his relationship with Trump will help him agree to appear for the second year in a row on Fox on New Year’s Eve show, Bolling predicted that the broadcast may outperform other networks like CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin because of the effort Fox is putting into the show — and because of the Fox duo’s onscreen compatibility.
“Kimberly and I work together on ‘The Five,’ and we’ve known each other for a very long time. We just bring a different energy. I think what we have — versus what Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin have is very different. They see each other once a year, New Years Eve, I spend 250 shows a year with Kimberly,” Bolling said.
“Look, Fox is really making an effort to have the New Years Eve show compete and win, and we have in the past, and I think we are going to win.”