Earhardt Lands at Fox News

Fox & Friends Weekend hasn't lost Kiran Chetry -- it's gained Ainsley Earhardt. The recent FNC hire began her tenure on this weekend's shows, and by all appearances has made a smooth landing. Sandwiched between the "Kelly Brothers," Kelly Wright and Greg Kelly, one of the first stories the trio discussed this morning was the results of the presidential straw poll at this weekend's CPAC conference in Washington.

Kelly Wright described Mitt Romney's straw poll win as a surprise "because of his Mormon background," then added that "he isn't running to be chief theologian, he's running to be chief executive officer of the United States." Observed Earhardt: "a lot of people were skeptical about [Romney] but many people after hearing him speak at the CPAC conference yesterday, many people were calling to say he's going to be the top candidate." Ainsley also made reference to Newt's relatively strong showing of 14% despite the fact that he won't join the race, if at all, until at least September.

View video here.

My two cents say that while Romney's win was mildly surprising, this was after all not an evangelical gathering but a conservative one. Among the frontrunners, McCain wasn't present and Rudy is openly liberal on the social issues. Mitt's win thus shouldn't be much of a shock. He also was apparently the best-organized candidate at the event, the halls and corridors thronged with T-shirted supporters.

But back to Ainsley. I bit of Googling unearthed this article, which reveals that she comes to FNC from KENS TV in San Antonio, Texas. A reporter there writes of the move:
  • It certainly helps to be liked by the CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes . During her interview at the channel, Earhardt personally met with Ailes. Clearly the meeting went well; she was practically hired on the spot.
  • It couldn't hurt that Earhardt is a strong Christian with fairly conservative values, considering Fox has a reputation of being further to the right than other national and international news outlets, right?
  • Maybe, but Earhardt told me Ailes emphasized that Fox News didn't deserve that rep and was dedicated to fair and balanced coverage and news reporting.
A bit more digging reveals that Earhardt is originally from South Carolina. As for being a Christian with fairly conserative values, in this article Ainsley mentions that the two people with whom she would most like to have dinner are Jesus and Ronald Reagan. Of the late, great president, she says: "I love Ronald Reagan. I respect him because he, as an individual, came from nothing. He was very close to his mother, came from a Catholic background and worked his way up becoming an actor and then President of the U.S. I thought he was so handsome; he was a wonderful husband who loved his wife, just an honorable man. I thought that some of the decisions he made as President were great."

As long as we're getting biographical, in researching this item I learned that Greg Kelly spent nine years as a fighter jet pilot in the Marines and is now a Major in the Marine Reserves. Kelly Wright is an Army veteran who attended Oral Roberts University.

In any case, welcome Ainsley -- we'll be watching!

Aside: As for the headline -- yes, I know that Ainsley's last name isn't spelled quite the same as that of the famed flyer, Amelia Earhart. Call it a bit of aviation license on my part.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.