Early in the morning of June 15, Steve Doocy, co-host of FOX’s Fox & Friends, stood to the side of the White House, recounting the score of the previous night’s Congressional baseball game. At the end of his live report, his son and fellow FOX correspondent, Peter Doocy skipped behind him, waving a cardboard box in his hand. Millions of viewers saw him approach before his father knew. A half light-hearted, half heart-warming surprise, Peter’s cameo brought Steve a Father’s Day gift – an unwrapped sleeve of John Roberts’ business cards.
Despite its overall mirth, the occasion had profound undertones that paint the relationship between father and son, who often appear on the same show. Almost a decade ago, Peter joined FOX after studying political science at Villanova, much to the trepidation of his parents, who have nourished prominent television careers of their own but wished their children – son Peter and two daughters – to select other professional routes. Fate, as it turned out, had weaved its own plan – a plan that has added a new layer to the bond between Steve and Peter.
Haute Living caught up with them to learn more about their lives on and off the camera. What follows is a conversation about childhood memories, golf, television and a bloody accident with a lawn mower that commenced a sturdy father-son bond.
How would you describe each other?
Peter: I would say that my dad is like my coach. Back when I was in middle school, he was my baseball coach. It was the first time I had someone in charge of a team that was so supportive and really gave me the confidence that I need to do well. It has been the same thing since we started working together, where I just know that he is always there to make sure that I have everything that I need and that I am at the best position to do well.
Steve: I think that is a good description. When Peter was young, obviously, I would show him how things work as fathers do. He is right. When he was, I think, in seventh or eighth grade, he really wanted to play on one of the big baseball teams in our town, and it was hard for him to get on the team and get to play. It was a very competitive town. I figured out the only way he would be able to play every game was if he had a really good coach, someone to look out for him. And, you know what, I just decided I would volunteer to coach even though I did not know that much about baseball. I actually relied on Peter to help me put together the lineup; he would help me with every aspect of the team.
He was helping me learn more about baseball, because baseball was never my sport. But, ultimately, it worked out because after one season, he wound up in the town world series. We almost won, but he was able to play all four years on his high-school baseball team, which was the ultimate goal.
[Since Peter started at FOX], just like being younger, I would help him with the construction of the story and writing and delivery. You know, the more you do it, the better you get. Now, he is so smooth. My wife [Kathy Doocy] and I watch him on TV and we are like, “That guy was really good. Oh, yeah, that’s our son.” Sometime, you forget. He is so professional. That’s the kid who used to live upstairs. Our relationship has gone from where I was the father, then I was the coach, and now I am still dad, but he is one of the guys at work. I greatly admire how far he has come.
Steve, you and Kathy wanted Peter to go into business or law. How did you feel when he, instead, chose journalism after college?
I was terrified because live TV is so easy to screw up. You could forget what you were going to say, or you could say one inappropriate word, or just get confused. It looks awful because YouTube is forever. In the beginning when Peter would be on, I would say for the first two years, if it was a 2-minute story, I would not breathe. I would hold my breath and hope it all went well. Peter had a couple of rough spots. I remember one time, he was out in the field and he got a confusing direction from the control room and he did not know what to do and he just said, “Back to you.” It was a little abrupt and it was not very smooth, but he learned from that and from that day forward he was always prepared for it. I progressed from a father who would hold my breath and hope for the best to someone who has no doubt that when Peter is on TV, he is going to do a great job.
Peter, how did you decide to take the job?
I always want to be where something interesting is happening and this job is the best way to do that. I really did have so many great opportunities in the beginning but I was not sure exactly how to handle it. I would come up with an idea and a plan for a report and then I would do it and ask my dad, “Ok, how was that.” Because he is the best in the business he would give me a very honest feedback about what worked and what could have been done better or what did not work.
In cable you have, eight or nine chances a day to do a report on a similar topic, so I would go back out two hours later and do the same thing. The first call [afterward] was always to dad or mom to see what needed to be tweaked throughout the day. I liked this, as the end of most of the days, the report got better and better. It is all because my dad has such a good input. He has been in the business for so long. He was able to tell me, “Ok, these are 10 mistakes that I made and I am going to tell you what they are so you can avoid them.” He essentially made a couple years worth of mistakes, so that I did not have to, because he warned me. He gave me the road map and I have relied on it heavily in this job.
How has working together changed your relationship or the way you see each other?
Steve: There is one awkward thing about the father-son dynamic. Here it is: if Peter is doing a live report on Fox & Friends, where I am one of the hosts, we do not want to remind people that we are father an son. In fact, many people watching actually think we are brother, which is kind of weird because I am 30 years older. When Peter is on and I would say, “Peter Doocy joins us from the White House. Peter.” That is how we would go to a reporter from the White House.
What he is going to say… he has only made the mistake one time. One time, he said, “Brian, Ainsley and St-t-Dad.” He did not want to say dad but he does not call me Steve because that is weird. If people know that is your son, why would you call him by his first name? He learned from that and now he just goes, “Back to you in the studio,” or something more generic.
Although, one time, on Father’s Day, Peter, I do not remember where you were but you did have a conversation and decided it will be ok for you to call med dad.
Peter: Right, and I did it from the White House North Lawn position, which I think in the history of the Washington DC press world, it is the only time that correspondent standing on the North Lawn has thrown back to the anchor dad. I thought it was very cool.
Steve: Back to you, dad. (laughs)
Do you maintain any Father’s Day traditions?
Steve: Because Peter is all over the country now, it is hard to get together. But as a family, we try to get together at least two weeks a year. We were all together a couple of weeks ago down in Florida. The beauty of the iPhone is, you know, wherever we are, we can FaceTime and there is such a good feeling that you can have a real-time conversation with somebody and it kind of feels like you are there with them.
He would send me a nice gift too. I would say, 50 percent of the time, it is actually there before Father’s Day. He is working on better coordination. (Peter laughs)
Peter: Something that we like to do a lot whenever we can is just get out and hit the golf ball for an hour. We just had the opportunity to spend the whole weekend over Memorial Day in Oklahoma for the Folds of Honor Golf Tournament, hitting the ball. We are both new at the game, so we lose a lot of balls in the woods and in the water, but that is something that he and I can go out and do. Whereas, 20 years ago, I would be asking my dad whether he wanted to go out and have a catch when I was home, now I ask him whether he wants to go hit the golf ball.
Steve: Peter, I think it would be more accurate if you ask, “Do you want to go out and lose about three dozen golf balls?”
Peter: Only three dozen, yes. (laughs)
What was the first activity you bonded over as father and son?
Steve: There was an organized group and we had pictures from the old days, called Indian guy. I want to say it was affiliated with the PTA at Peter’s school. So, he was the Indian guy and I was the dad, and we had to camp out in Northern Virginia and there was a camp fire and all. Peter, I am sure you do not remember this particular detail. The camp location was literally a half mile from our house, but it was so scary for you at night and we could have gone home, but, you know, “We are half a mile from home, so how bad can it be?” That was the first father-son bonding kind of thing.
Then, as Peter was growing up outside of New York, we would go to a lot of Yankee games. He loved the Yankees. Now, we bond over beer and golf.
Peter: I actually think I remember a little bit before the camping trip. We had a front yard and a back yard that needed to be mowed in Northern Virginia. My favorite thing was always to ride on the lawn mower. (Steve laughs)
Steve: That is right, but, Peter, you are forgetting the important detail. Ok, so, Peter loved to ride on the mower but his mother said to me, “Do not ever have him ride on your lap on the mower. I would kill you.” And, Peter, what happened?
Peter: Well, there was a hill in the front yard and we are going sideways, riding on the mower and ended up riding on his lap anyway.
Steve: Mom had gone to the grocery store and he said, “Can I go for a ride on the mower.” I said, “Sure, mom will never know.” So I was mowing and the mower was tipping over. I stuck my right foot out to make the mower go upright. I wound up ripping the side off my thigh. Keep in mind, it was a gigantic riding lawn mower and you got these twin blades underneath spinning around in 10,000 rpm. The whole thing was going to pretty much chop us off had I not struck my leg out. Of course, just like in a movie, right after it tipped over and I righted it and put it neutral and turned it off, my wife pulls up in the Volvo Wagon. She sees what happened. When we started to tip over, Peter bumped his nose on the steering wheel. So she ran over, picked him up. He had a bloody nose. She took him off to the urgent care place and I probably needed five stitches on my leg and I said, “Well, what about me,” and Kathy goes, “You need to stay here, because I need to take him to the hospital for his bloody nose.” So, that is right we did bond on the lawn mower much to his mother’s chagrin.
Any last words before you go?
Steve: I am lucky to have three kids who still like to be around their dad. There are a lot of kids who outgrow their parents or the parents outgrow the kids. We have a great relationship.
Peter: I would say that I am so lucky to have two parents who always do whatever they can and whatever they can think of to make sure that me and my sisters have whatever we need to do well.