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Steve Doocy Recalls Fox News’ Humble Beginnings: ‘It Didn’t Look Good’ (Exclusive)

The ”Fox & Friends“ host spoke to TheWrap ahead of the network’s 25th anniversary

Fox News celebrates its 25th anniversary Thursday and has been the top-rated cable news channel since 2000, but according to “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy, it wasn’t an easy journey.

“For the longest time in the beginning, it didn’t look good,” he recalled to TheWrap, explaining that he was one of the very first hires when the network launched. “Our competition was CNN and they were the market leader, obviously.”

Doocy described how he started by doing the weather, then began doing news broadcasts, which came in 15-minute chunks that were repeated throughout the day. A few things happened that launched Fox News to where it is now and Doocy remembers it all. First, after some effort, the network started broadcasting in New York after securing distribution with Time Warner. Then, as Doocy recalls, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks happened and the channel began covering the attack — and the subsequent War on Terror — with vigor, preempting commercials and, as Doocy tells it, catching stray viewers who turned away from commercials on other channels while searching for the latest updates.

Fox News began running a news ticker across the screen and “all the other channels picked it up.” Indeed, all the major networks now feature tickers that tell viewers the top headlines and need-to-know information, regardless of what on-air hosts are discussing.

The terrorist attacks in 2001 changed Americans’ news appetite in the long term. News related to the attacks continued for years. In 2014, in fact, Doocy’s son, Peter Doocy, interviewed Rob O’Neil, the Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden. Doocy is now a White House correspondent for the network. The older Doocy says his son has only slipped up and called him “Dad” on air twice.

Fox News pulled ahead of CNN in the ratings in 2000, just ahead of 9/11, and has stayed in first place ever since. Typically, Fox News wins in total average viewers while CNN and MSNBC take turns winning certain shows or dayparts in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54.

Love it or hate it, the network gained major traction, pulling in ever-increasing viewers, shattering its own records and reaching a unique place in pop culture. Doocy and his “Fox & Friends” co-hosts were even spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” in 2018, which he assured TheWrap he found flattering.

“It was funny and they did it for a while and it’s just flattering,” he said. “They’re not going to do a cold open with people that nobody’s ever heard of.”