CRTV’s Eric Bolling gave The Daily Signal an exclusive first look at the set of his new show “AMericA.”
Formerly with the Fox News Channel, Bolling is back, and now he’s pursuing the type of show he’s wanted to do for years: a casual, engaging show, taped at the Washington Court Hotel’s lobby bar.
He will interview government officials from the Trump administration, as well as other policymakers and influential political figures, then take the conversation to people watching in the hotel to get their opinions on the policy discussions occurring in America.
AMericA?? a political talk show taped live from an actual working Capitol Hill Hotel Lobby Bar w/ host Eric Bolling that gives viewers outside the Beltway a better understanding of what’s REALLY going on inside the DC Swamp and its impact close to homehttps://t.co/GUpW1E3tCu
— Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) June 26, 2018
Bolling’s work on the opioid crisis, prompted by the death of his son, Eric Chase Bolling, took him to Washington, D.C., on multiple occasions over the past year. He has continued to meet with President Donald Trump and others in the Trump administration in efforts to raise awareness of and combat the opioid epidemic.
As Bolling shifts into a new chapter in his career, he looked back on his own beginnings in media and politics after a significant baseball injury and a successful career in finance.
Watch the video above to see the full interview.
The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity.
Ginny Montalbano: I want to start with who you are. Who is Eric Bolling? I know you had some baseball in your past, some commodities trading. How did you end up in media and politics?
Eric Bolling: Good question. Baseball, an injury led me to, “I need a job, I’ll take anything,” and at the time, my girlfriend’s father was an oil trader in Boston, and I went up there and said, “I’ll do whatever I can do to work,” and he put me on, and I really loved the Wall Street excitement when we were in Boston, but I realized that the heartbeat of finance was New York.
I just did what I had to do to get down to New York and started working on a trading floor as a commodities trader, solo, just for myself. You know, I’ll never forget the first week, as [on] the third day trading ever, I lost every penny I had … to my name. I went home, I closed the door on my apartment, pulled the shade down, called my Mom and said, “Mom, I guess I’m not cut out for this. It’s not going to work.”
She said … “Never quit, keep going.” I went back … and got myself back on my feet, and I spent the better part of 13 years on the trading floor, becoming what would probably be the biggest natural gas trader, individual trader in the world.
The moral of that story is never quit, and she was right.
I’m on the trading floor one day, and oil prices are going up, and CNBC for the first time ever was on the trading floor, and they happened to catch me with a camera and a microphone and said, “What’s going on?” I gave them my best 90 seconds, and they loved it and they said, “Can you do this again tomorrow?” And then tomorrow became “Can you do this again every day for a while?”
I was called to CNBC’s offices in Secaucus, New Jersey, and they said, “We want to do a new show about the life of trading, and we want to call it ‘Fast Money.’” And I said, “Sign me up. I’d love to do it,” and we did that for a while.
The interesting thing was, I was on CNBC at 5 o’clock. Years later, I got a call from Fox. Alexis Glick was working at Fox, and she brought me over, and [I] met with Roger Ailes and Neil Cavuto and Kevin Magee at the time, and they said, “We want to do a show on the business network.” I said “great.” The show ended up being 5 o’clock.
A couple of years after that … when [Glenn] Beck left, Ailes had no one to put in that 5 o’clock hour. He put five names on a piece of paper, passed it over to Bill Shine. Shine says, “OK, I’ll get it done,” and that was “The Five.” That was July 11 of 2011, and I’ve always been at 5 o’clock … and I literally did not plan this.
I planned just about everything to do with this [new] show, with the exception of one thing. I let CRTV figure out when we are going to air live, 5 o’clock. I’ve never been on TV other than 5 o’clock.
Montalbano: This past year has been a year of transition. You left Fox News. You also lost your son to opioids. We spoke about it at [the Conservative Political Action Conference] this year.
— Ginny Montalbano (@GinnyMontalbano) February 23, 2018
Bolling: We did.
Montalbano: You have been doing some incredible work, drawing attention to the opioid epidemic. What has it been like working with the Trump administration on this?
Bolling: It was very good at first. We talked about this prior, but the day after my son passed of that accidental opioid overdose, the phone rang, and President Trump was calling.
He said, “Eric, if there’s anything I can do, if there is anything Melania and I can do, say the word.” I was in such a tailspin, I hardly remember the conversation. But I remember that he had reached out. A couple of weeks later, it was Thanksgiving, and that empty chair … . We were all going over to the table to have Thanksgiving dinner with the empty chair, and the phone rings again, and I know it’s going to be miserable.
Phone rings, it’s Trump again. … I realized that he really cared about people. He had more empathy than people give him credit for. I’ve always liked him as the commander in chief, but he never gets credit for that side of him that people don’t see, that he cares about people—especially kids. I mean, children, he adores.
At that point, I’m like, can I come and speak to you about this crisis, and he said “Sure,” and I get involved in it. … I said there’s a whole other side to this. There’s the demand side of it. Most conservatives don’t want to hear about this, but you have to treat the demand. You have to treat the addicts as kind of victims. We don’t want to treat them as criminals. We want to treat them as needing help.
We have to address the supply side of it, how much cheap opioids are coming in, but also why are people using more and more, and using stuff that’s killing them. And there are lots of reasons for it, one of them being China sending over fentanyl. In literally about two or three grains of salt, fentanyl can kill you. … I got them to at least look at both sides of it. I think they’re doing a better job. I wouldn’t say great, but a better job at it.
Opioids are a tough thing to talk about as most people don’t understand what that means. Most people think heroin. It’s not. Most of the people are dying of opioid overdoses. … So, we got involved in that. … It’s been very hard dealing with this, but the upside is that, you know, I bet a lot of parents say, “I’m glad you’re at least using the tragedy to help others.”
I’ve had so many parents say that they are having the conversation that they were never going to have, or were too embarrassed to have, or just never thought their kid needed it, because he or she was too smart, or too good of an athlete or too popular. … Everyone’s dying of opioids: 64,000 people dying of drug overdoses.
Montalbano: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he is retiring. I remember all during the 2016 presidential campaign, you specifically pointed out how important it was for conservatives to vote for Trump, if not just for the Supreme Court opening. How monumental is this?
Bolling: Massive. At the time, here’s what was going on then. The day Donald Trump and Melania came down the escalators of Trump Tower, June 16 of 2015, I said, “That guy is going to be the next president.” … I was on shows, and people called me nuts, people said, “You’re just doing it because you like him,” and I said, “No, I think he’s got something. I think he is going to be the next guy because he’s, people are paying attention to him, and he’s got something different, right?”
At one point, it got so tiring to continuously get beat up by four or five people, on my own network … I finally said, “OK, look. Do it this way. You’re conservative, right?” And … I say, “Well, vote for Trump because at least one, maybe two, and a possibility of three Supreme Court justices could be replaced in the next two presidential terms.” And everyone kind of shut up, because you know, even if you didn’t like Trump, as a conservative, you better do it.
Montalbano: Shifting gears to your new show, why don’t you tell us about it? How did you come up with a concept, and who are you trying to reach?
Bolling: Great question. For years, I’ve clearly known that my name is right in the middle of “America.” Eric is right in the middle, and so, six or seven years ago, I pitched to the network I used to work for this idea of the show called “AMericA.” … We were going to talk about empowering Americans, and how great America is and the Constitution. They never bought it.
That is so important to hear. All I want to do is extract truth from these politicians and then vet their comments with a live audience watching in the bar. https://t.co/25Fjf8DYc1
— Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) June 26, 2018
At CPAC, in February, I happened to be talking to a group of young people … and CRTV had a booth right next to yours, maybe two, three down, and the CEO came over and said, “I’d love to talk to you about doing a show on CRTV.” I said, “I have an idea, it’s called ‘AMericA.’ My name’s right in the middle.” … He goes, “I love it. Let’s talk about it.”
That was February, and we went through a lot of ideas, and two months ago, I said, “Let’s do something different. I don’t want to do a studio show. There are so many studio shows. … But let’s do something interesting. Let’s do it from a hotel lobby bar.” He thought I was kidding. But I said, “No, no. I mean it. Let’s do it from a hotel lobby bar.” …
You talk about politics when you’re at the bar, when you’re at the dinner table sometimes. Maybe some people don’t like to. I do, but at the bar. When you’re watching a game or something with your friends and you say, “Let’s talk politics. Let’s talk smart, high-level insider politics from an active bar.”
And he said, “I love it. Let’s see if we can do it.” … By the way, there were five or six venues that wanted the show. This was great, because we’re three blocks from you [The Heritage Foundation]. We’re three blocks from the Capitol, and about seven blocks from the White House, two blocks from Union Station. This [the Washington Court Hotel] is the perfect location.
Montalbano: Now to kick all of this off, you’re going on a bus tour. What is that going to be like?
Bolling: What we’re doing is, we have, you know, one of those big, big buses. Like a real legit, full-blown bus, that’s wrapped with the show logo on it. … The first stop will be in Greenville, South Carolina, at an airport hangar [and from there to Daytona Speedway in Florida]. …
We’re going to do a show right from there … . The first show is a Friday, and it’s, we’re just going to have the bus, the race car I told you about that is going to be going on Daytona speedway. We are going to set up … music and barbecues, and we are just going to have a blast. We have a drone camera that’s going to take pictures of the whole thing.
That is Friday, then Saturday’s the big race day. The first two ever African-American women pit crew ever to work at NASCAR are going to come out to the show and change the tires on the race car, and they’re going to expect me to do it, too. I’m sure they are going to kick my butt.
Montalbano: That’s fantastic.
Bolling: So that’s Friday and Saturday. [Then] we’re taking the bus over to the Florida-Alabama border, for Alabama and pulling up beachside. We’re going to do just a beach party. …
About a month ago, a guy emails me and says, “You know, I’m a big fan of you at Fox … . [M]y family’s always loved what you’ve been doing. I own Travel America truck stop in Greeneville, Tennessee, would you stop here?”
I was like, you know, why not, right? …
Can you imagine having senior Cabinet secretaries sitting across a bar from me doing a discussion about trade or taxes or whatever, then we say goodbye, and then we go talk to people and say, “Did you like that?” I love the concept.