Fox News Channel’s Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld is considered an off-the-wall and irreverent program that values quick wit above politics. Yet, Red Eye has an element that every other political program should have in order to be taken seriously: TV’s Andy Levy.
As the “ombudsman” Levy corrects people for a living. And to their face, not in a bottom-of-the-page "correction" the next day. As Ann Coulter has noted, lately his job is quoting the Arizona immigration law. Imagine how much more accountable guests of “Meet the Press,” “This Week” and “Face the Nation” would be with TV's Andy Levy on board. Actually, most politicians would probably stop appearing on those shows. It's a win-win!
Prior to joining Red Eye, Levy was an associate producer at NBC News in Washington, D.C., publicist for the 69th Annual Academy Awards and an executive with the Directors Guild of America. He also served in the U.S. Army as a Combat Signaler.
Levy has over 22,000 followers on Twitter, whom he says he loves like people he's never met. A super fan describes herself as a “levytarian.” When asked to define it, she said, “Levytarianism is a way of life, really. Like vegetarianism, only better and tastier.”
Defining Levy’s political affiliation is unnecessary. Reporters could learn a lot from Levy's role. We shouldn't be concerned with reporters' ideology, but with their ability to be fair-minded. Levy, like the rest of the Red Eye team, holds everyone accountable and he apologizes for nothing.
1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
LEVY: Berlin Alexanderplatz. It's 15 1/2 hours long, so you could tune in and catch 10 minutes here and there, and in a month or so you'd have seen the whole thing. And really, there's no better way to watch a Fassbinder film. So either that or anything with the word "squeakquel" in the title.
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
LEVY: From Casablanca:
Captain Renault: What on earth made you come to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.
I feel like this can be applied to so many situations in today's world. For instance:
What on earth made you vote for Obama
I voted for Obama for hope and change.
Hope and change? What hope and change? Obama's just another politician.
I was misinformed.
Another great line is from Woody Allen's Love and Death, when Sonia says "Judgment of any system, or a prior relationship or phenomenon, exists in an irrational, or metaphysical, or at least epistemological contradiction to an abstract empirical concept such as being, or to be, or to occur in the thing itself, or of the thing itself." For some reason, that really speaks to me.
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he was "cured." If you could give President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Harry Reid the "Clockwork Orange treatment," what movie would you make them watch?
LEVY: Probably A Clockwork Orange, just so I can be one of those jerks who says things like, "Dude, that's so meta." If not Clockwork, then for Nancy Pelosi it'd be Face/Off, in the hope that it would stop the madness; for Harry Reid it'd be Short Straw, the seven-and-a-half-minute "niche" movie Greg Gutfeld made in college over spring break; and for President Obama it'd be a highlight reel of his own speeches, cuz then afterwards he could give it to Albert the Second, King of the Belgians, as a gift.
4. Comedians like Joy Behar, Aisha Tyler and Whoopi Goldberg have criticized people like Ann Coulter for putting jokes into their speeches and writing. It’s ok for comedians to dabble in politics, but not the other way around. What role do you think humor has in politics?
LEVY: I think humor plays a huge role in politics—how could it not, with Joe Biden being Vice President? And I'm fine with that. (What I'm not fine with is you referring to Joy Behar as a comedian. It's my understanding that comedians are supposed to be funny.) Of course, the question for politicians always has to be, "is the joke appropriate?" And if the answer is yes, then you're good to go. And if the answer is no, the joke was probably really funny.
5. How do you think pop culture and entertainment affect people’s political beliefs?
LEVY: I don't know if those things affect people's actual political beliefs as much as they affect the way people look at the world. For example, we've been raised on a diet of movies that often portray businesspeople as evil and military personnel as crazy, and sadly, I think those attitudes have permeated our culture to a certain extent. (To be fair, people like Tony Hayward don't help matters.)
But I think that when all is said and done, if you're the kind of person who thinks Che Guevara was cool, a movie about him isn't gonna change that. (Mainly because you're a pus-swilling imbecile to begin with.) For whatever reason, I think that in the same way liberals and lefties are more likely to go into the entertainment business, they're also more susceptible to it. But then again, I think liberals, despite the fact that they often consider themselves to be intellectuals and those who disagree with them to be sub-literate morons, also are far more susceptible to style over substance. (See: Obama, anybody named Kennedy, et. al.)
I mean, you just know that when Obama won, a ton of people who went with him to the White House were saying, "Dude, it's gonna be just like 'The West Wing.’” Which probably explains why a bunch of them are now leaving.
6. Which movie, television or rock star would cause you to lose your ability to speak if you ever met?
LEVY: The Black Eyed Peas, because my brain would be too busy picturing them all as characters in the Saw movies for me to be able to formulate a sentence.
7. What books are on your summer reading list?
LEVY: Five excellent books I've already read are So Cold the River, by Michael Koryta; The Passage, by Justin Cronin; 61 Hours, by Lee Child; Inside Out, by Barry Eisler; and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson.
Still on tap are Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens, War by Sebastian Junger, Are We Winning by Will Leitch, Hellhound on his Trail by Hampton Sides, and whatever else I download to my Kindle when I should be sleeping.
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Bible of Unspeakable Truths,"by Greg Gutfeld.*
*"Remiss" means out of a job, right?
8. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, "This is what Elvis felt like every day.”
LEVY: Probably the time I took an entire bottle of Percocet and an entire bottle of Xanax and then ate 25 donuts and twelve cheesecakes. Elvis was a lucky man to feel like that every day.
9. What are your two favorite non-news websites?
LEVY: The first is definitely http://www.mta.info/, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority's website, which is just fantastic. I can spend hours on there, just calculating different routes. That, to me, is a great Saturday night. Also, it gives me great conversation starters with women, like, "Did you know there's limited Pelham Bay Park-bound service to and from Parkchester?" (How I'm single is beyond me.)
The second is obviously Gwyneth Paltrow's website, Goop. There is simply no better resource for learning about things such as detox regimens—I can't thank Gwynnie enough for recommending the three-week-long "Clean" program—and places that make "lookalike" dolls for your kids. Of course, I don't have kids of my own, so I had to get dolls that look like other people's kids. The downside of this is that my camera and I are no longer welcome at any park in the five boroughs. People are so uptight these days, aren't they?
But in all honesty, I'm still not sure this whole Internet thing is here to stay. I'm pretty certain it's just a fad, like the hula hoop and women being allowed to vote. Fifty years from now our grandchildren will say to us, "Did you really used to look things up on a computer, spin a crappy plastic hoop around your waist and let Grandma have a say in who ran the country?" How embarrassing will that be? (I'm joking, obviously. I'll never have grandchildren.)
10. What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do because of your role in the political arena?
LEVY: I think the coolest thing is just realizing the effect “Red Eye,” and I, personally, have had on people, and on the country as a whole. It's great to say something on TV one night and look back on it and realize that this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; that this was moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. That this was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.
Oh, also there was the moment the guy in the bodega gave me a dollar off a pack of smokes because he totally recognized me from the show. That was pretty cool!
11. What question do you wish reporters would ask you? What’s your answer to that question?
LEVY: I wish reporters would ask me what question I wish reporters would ask me. I would tell them to get the hell out of my face and then I'd smash their cameras and/or tape recorders and/or notepads. And then I'd run away really fast, and head straight to the airport, where I'd use one of my many identities to fly to Belize, where I'd live out the rest of my life in peace and tranquility, tweeting occasionally, but mostly just keeping my thoughts to myself.
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
LEVY: I've never entered the political arena, or any arena of any kind. I actually suffer from arenaphobia, which is Spanish for "fear of arenas." It's weird, because I have no problem entering coliseums, stadiums or amphitheaters. I don't understand it, and I really wish you hadn't brought it up. Not cool. This interview is over. [Getting up, smashing tape recorder, running away really fast, heading straight to airport, using one of many identities to fly to Belize, living out rest of life in peace and tranquility, tweeting occasionally, but mostly just keeping thoughts to myself.]