Last night, “Fox & Friends” anchor Brian Kilmeade hosted a party in honor of his new book, “George Washington’s Secret Six,” co-written with Don Yaeger. The event was in a room at the tony Del Frisco’s steakhouse in midtown Manhattan; the news ticker on 1211 Avenue of the Americas, the News Corp. headquarters, was visible through the windows. Guests were a stone’s throw from work; these guests included Bill O’Reilly (briefly), “Fox & Friends” co-hosts Steve Doocy and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, former co-host Gretchen Carlson, and daytime anchor Bill Hemmer.
I’d interviewed Kilmeade about the book, a work of pop-history about spying during the American Revolution, recently and so was invited to the soiree, populated almost entirely, it would seem, by Kilmeade friends and Fox News personages from in front of and behind the camera. It was too tightly packed to move much in the party, so I found myself in conversation with neighbors, who were discussing the network’s planned coverage of New Year’s Eve.
What I came away with was an appreciation for the role Megyn Kelly plays in conversations going on at the network: People working on the network’s New Year’s Eve coverage said that for one of the networks’ two most prominent female stars, Kelly or Hasselbeck, they’d be willing to pre-tape the coverage rather than broadcast live; the list of names of potential celebrity talent, which the Fox Newsers worried was low-wattage, currently included Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I wandered around a bit, looking for hors d’oeuvres (the menu? Beef with bearnaise sauce, bruschetta, and crab rangoon). A group of blond on-air talent, including Hasselbeck, stood in a large circle blocking the front door; they were impenetrable both in a literal sense and a figurative one, conversing quietly and at some length. The much-written-about Fox News look (blond, tanned, made-up) was startling when iterated several times over. Gretchen Carlson wasn’t among them, though — she was sipping a glass of white wine on the balcony instead. O’Reilly stayed long enough to get his photo snapped with Kilmeade then beat a hasty exit (I accidentally stopped just short of hitting him with an outward-moving bathroom door as he left and he didn’t notice!). Hemmer, on the other hand, found himself at the front of the room when Kilmeade began speaking and stared at him with rapt attention.
Kilmeade’s remarks to the room contained the surprising admission that Fox News corporate sibling HarperCollins — the publisher of Kilmeade’s previous books — had passed on “George Washington’s Secret Six” after Kilmeade took it to them due to contractual obligation. The book ended up at Sentinel, a conservative Penguin imprint.
“It’s a niche book about the Revolutionary War and George Washington at a time where there’s a lot of other stuff going on. HarperCollins did one thing, we had to go to them first, and they knew for sure they didn’t want to do it,” Kilmeade told the crowd, to laughter. “It wasn’t a good feeling.” He credited the book’s existence to Washington lawyer/consigliere Bob Barnett, who’s reputed for representing and arranging book deals for any number of political figures. “Bob Barnett bringing you around,” he said. “He’s used to bringing around Hillary Clinton and George Bush and Sarah Palin and the line goes out the door.”
He urged all attendees to tweet about the book. “It’s not so much me,” he said. “It’s these five nondescript players.” Across the room, a young producer winced; as its title indicates, the book is about six spies.