Ann Coulter might have broken up with her disappointing ex-political love object, Donald Trump, but conservative radio jock Laura Ingraham, Coulter’s fellow blond pundit and right-wing populist ideologue, is still hanging in there.
On Monday night’s 10 p.m. debut of The Ingraham Angle, the latest tweak in Fox News’ prime-time schedule since the seismic sacking of the disgraced and discredited Bill O’Reilly, Ingraham (pronounced “ingram”) gently chided White House chief of staff John Kelly—in a rare television interview with the taciturn retired four-star Marine general—on the 45th president’s apparent willingness to admit 45,000 refugees (most of them Muslim instead of Christian, she complained to Kelly) and his failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Ingraham, a former Skadden Arps lawyer and Supreme Court clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, tried her darndest to squeeze some news out of the affectless, deadpan Kelly, prodding him on Trump’s peculiar suck-upery to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his apparent inability to fill critical posts at the state department, but for the most part she didn’t bother to get out of the tank. (She began the show with a chart listing Trump’s multifarious accomplishments.)
The biggest headline out of the two-segment pre-taped encounter with Kelly, in which Ingraham sat across from the chief of staff in his flag-festooned West Wing office, was the general’s steadfast refusal to offer an apology to Rep. Frederica Wilson—who criticized Trump for his insensitive attempt at a condolence call to the widow of one of the soldiers killed in Niger, Sgt. La David Johnson—for completely mischaracterizing her remarks at an FBI ceremony in 2015.
“Oh, no. Never,” the general vowed. “Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”
Kelly also said that on his disheartened pilgrimage to Arlington National Cemetery in the aftermath of the Florida Democrat’s broadside at his boss, he heard “screams out of the graves: ‘What are you talking about, Kelly? You got it easy. Look where we are.’ ”
The general also displayed a saturnine wit (at least I think he was kidding; it was hard to tell) when he joined Ingraham in lamenting the removal of statues celebrating Robert E. Lee and even, in one case, George Washington.
“We can get some cult hero who really was the great one,” Kelly suggested concerning a replacement for the broken American idols. “Andy Warhol or something like that.”
Kelly, who apparently is not a fan of the Campbell soup can paintings, said this without the hint of a smile.
In the program’s second half-hour, during a gray parade of middle-aged white guys ranging from former attorney general Mike Mukasey to former Ken Starr associate Paul Rosenzweig to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, Ingraham did her level best to follow the Fox News playbook.
Which is to say, she minimized the potential trouble Trump is courting in the ongoing investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and she maximized the perfidy of Democrats who allegedly funneled $10 million through a blue-chip law firm to pay for that notoriously salacious dossier on Trump, and she mused about the of advisability of appointing a special counsel to investigate Fox News’ Great Satan, the Clintons.
(By the way, Laura, you might like middle-aged white guys—since I am one, I hope you do—but a merciless menu of same-old, same-older, with everybody agreeing with one another, and Rosenzeig’s crazy yellow bowtie the only dash of color, can make for dreary television.)
Ingraham—who, even wearing a prim purple dress with a massive gold crucifix dangling from her neck, looks far younger than her 54 years—opened her premiere with a mission statement of sorts, in praise of Ronald Reagan, God, freedom, and in denunciation of big government, the media elites, the self-loathing of Trump’s unpatriotic opponents, and the Washington establishment’s tolerance for open borders—“more open than Harvey Weinstein’s bathrobe,” she declared.
She ended her debut with a not-unreasonable slam of Kevin Spacey, and his attempt to use his long-delayed coming-out as a gay man to distract from an accusation that, 30 years ago, Spacey tried to bed a 14-year-old boy.
Of course, Ingraham framed the sorry affair as an indictment of liberal Hollywood as evidenced by the evil behavior of “another Hollywood creep.”
It will be interesting, and perhaps rewarding, to see if, in future shows, she will occasionally break away from orthodoxy and make a few sparks.