Bob Beckel Returned, to Bash Trump On Fox News

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Ken Tucker
·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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Photo: Fox News
Photo: Fox News

In a semi-surprise, that big ol’ growly, liberal bear in suspenders, Bob Beckel, reclaimed his chair on Monday’s edition of The Five. Beckel, who’d been dumped by Fox News in 2015 (and underwent, as he said on Monday, three back operations), is a sleeker grumpy ol’ bear now, having dropped 35 pounds. But he was still ready to be ornery, complaining about “how little [Donald] Trump knows about anything” and measuring “how much Trump is disliked” throughout America.

The other four of The Five — Eric Bolling, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greg Gutfeld and Dana Perino — seemed genuinely pleased to see Beckel, whose seat had been filled most recently by Juan Williams. (Williams, a Fox statement says, will continue to appear across the network, including occasional visits to The Five.) There was a lot of reminiscing about Beckel, complete with a clip-reel of Beckel’s various stunts on the show. (Bob doing yoga qualified as a stunt.) If the hour got off to a rocky start — I’m not sure how much of a sign of assured support it is to be played onto the air by the Bee Gees singing “Stayin’ Alive” — Beckel settled in nicely soon enough.

But so much time was spent welcoming Beckel back to the fold, The Five barely had time to hurl insults at Congressman John Lewis — which, on this Martin Luther King Day, Fox News had been doing all day. The channel’s wedge into traducing the reputation of Lewis, an authentic American hero, is to have many of its anchor bobble-heads say that Lewis has “gone too far”: Guilfoyle’s version of this was to say of Lewis, “This guy attacked our democratic principles.” Calling Lewis “this guy” was a typical conflation of ignorance and insult, and obviously a key principle of democracy is that we can feel free to criticize anyone in — or in Trump’s case, about to ascend to — power.

Beckel closed out the show by looking into the camera and addressing the President-elect: “I’m gonna be after you,” he said. “You know the old saying, you can run but you can’t hide.” As a threat, it carried less weight than the number of pounds Bob has lost. I preferred an earlier comment he’d made, during a segment on how few celebrities are planning to serenade the new President on Friday. “Can’t Ethel Merman do it?” asked Beckel. The great thing was, I’m not sure if he thought she was still around to do so, or was suggesting that we summon her back from the dead.

The Five airs weekdays at 5 p.m. on Fox News.