Eric Bolling ’84

Love Him or Hate Him

By Terry Godbey

Eric Bolling on The O'Reilly Factor

The road to Eric Bolling’s job as co-host of the FOX Business Network program Happy Hour was roundabout but thrilling. He played third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was a commodities trader before CNBC offered him his first TV job in 2005. “I love the business, but I really, really love the politics,” Bolling said. “I like the strategy, the emotion, what goes into seeing the two sides.”

Happy Hour is a fast-paced show that explains the day’s business news, with plenty of politics thrown in. Bolling, 46, says the show’s setting in the Bull and Bear bar in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City enlivens the show. So do the personalities of the conservative Bolling and co-hosts Cody Willard and Rebecca Diamond, both of whom he describes as “substantially more liberal than I am.”

“There are plenty of people who are smarter than the three of us, but it’s the way you present your viewpoint that either makes people say, ‘I like him’ or ‘I really can’t stand him,’” Bolling said. “Either one’s fine—love me, hate me…just have an opinion.”

Bolling has also had the thrill of filling in for political commentators Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Neil Cavuto. “They are very highly viewed shows. To solo host a show, especially one with that much visibility, is kind of like being up to bat on a baseball field. It’s not unlike that, or being in the trading pit, where it’s all you—either sink or swim.” He says he would love to have his own show.

As much as he enjoys politics, his first love was baseball, which he played at Rollins while majoring in business and economics. The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him just weeks after he started a fellowship at Duke University’s School of Public Policy. He played two years in the minor league, until a torn rotator cuff ended his baseball dreams.

Bolling later went to work for a commodities brokerage in Boston. He soon realized that being on a trading floor was probably more interesting and lucrative, so he walked into the New York Mercantile Exchange with a stack of résumés and was hired. He spent 15 years on the trading floor and served on the board of directors of the exchange.

In 2005, a CNBC reporter “literally grabbed me off the trading floor and asked me to explain why oil prices were rallying,” Bolling said. Before long, the network offered him a job on a new program, Fast Money, which he helped develop. The show began to air nightly in 2006.

Then the president of FOX News, Roger Ailes, invited Bolling to join that network, and he jumped at the chance, thinking “it would be a good opportunity to be around a nice, fair and balanced, conservative network.” He signed with FOX in 2008 and later that year became a co-host of Happy Hour, which airs weekdays at 5 p.m. Bolling also is a cast member of FOX News’s Bulls & Bears at 10 a.m. Saturdays and hosts’s Strategy Room online show weekdays at 3 p.m.

Although he loves New York, Bolling returns to Florida often to visit Miami and the Orlando theme parks with his wife and son. He likes snow skiing, casinos, and beaches, but politics is never far from his mind. “It’s so important,” he said. “It affects every American. I live for the politics.”