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Former Fox News Guest Sunny Hostin Slams Network's "Cult-Like" Atmosphere

The View co-host appeared as a legal commentator on The O'Reilly Factor.

Years before she joined the panel of The ViewSunny Hostin was featured as a legal analyst on the Fox News program The O'Reilly Factor. And in the Feb. 20 episode of the View podcast Behind the Table, the lawyer and TV personality opened up about the culture at the conservative news station. Hostin called out Fox for being "cult-like," claiming that bosses used a whiteboard to announce the opinions and talking points that should be pushed on every show.

RELATED: Why Tucker Carlson Was Really Fired by Fox News, New Book Reveals.

Hostin appeared on The O'Reilly Factor's "Is It Legal?" segment in the mid-'00s to give her legal opinion on various issues and events. On the podcast, as reported by Entertainment Weekly, she told The View producer that Brian Teta that Fox was "unlike any place [she'd] ever worked before" or has since.

"That's because it felt very cult-like," she said. "There was almost a mandate that would come from the top about what topics would be discussed on every show, and there were whiteboards on every floor. The shows were separated often by floors. You could see it as you walked in to where you were sitting. No. 1 was like, 'Obama sucks,' No. 2 was like, 'Obama was not born in this country.'"

Hostin said that she was there to "push back" on these ideas, going head-to-head with either Bill O'Reilly or Megyn Kelly. While the 55-year-old, who described herself as more centrist than liberal, said that Kelly was "fine" and that they talked normally when cameras weren't rolling, that changed whenever "that red light came on."

"She became a completely different person, a very telegenic person, very aggressive, assertive, and it caught me off-guard only one time," Hostin said. "I only need to experience that once. She took up all the air time, she took up all the air in the room, and I realized what my task was because I had the minority voice, of course, for Fox News viewers, that I had a mission, I wanted them to see the other side."

In an appearance on Andy Cohen's Sirius XM show in 2020, Hostin even said that she and Kelly "were friends," adding that she "never got the impression that she had a problem with race."

She told Cohen that Kelly, who famously claimed on air that both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ were white, "almost became a caricature of herself" after they worked together. Hostin also said in that interview that she learned a lot about TV presence from the former Fox News star, however.

As for O'Reilly, The View panelist said that "he was very fair to [her] as well," but "quite dismissive" when she told him that she'd been offered a job at CNN. Hostin had thought that O'Reilly would champion her for a matching offer to stay at Fox. (According to EW, she was not a paid contributor to The O'Reilly Factor.)

On the Behind the Table podcast, Hostin also claimed that the "cultish" atmosphere of Fox News extended to what women anchors, contributors, and guests wore.

"The hair and makeup and clothing, I thought was a little inappropriate," she said. "The shorter the skirt, the more airtime you got."

In 2016, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes resigned in disgrace after being accused of sexual harassment by several female employees, including Kelly.

This story has been updated to include fact-checking and copy-editing.

Sage Young
Sage Young is the Deputy Entertainment Editor at Best Life, expanding and honing our coverage in this vertical by managing a team of industry-obsessed writers. Read more
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