It’s unclear to me exactly how Jeanine Pirro— lawyer, former district attorney and then would-be politician— lost the plot and reinvented herself as Judge Box of Wine, the most North Korean of the Fox News propagandists. But here we are. She’s smooth-haired Lou Dobbs in a cocktail dress, yelling at you every Saturday night, her breath heavy with shaming and possibly rosé.
Trumpism has been good for Judge Box of Wine. She’s benefited from the largesse of Trump himself, with interviews and many tweets back when Trump was on Twitter not to mention the pardon for her ex-husband—the ex who cheated on her and his taxes but that she pressed for and the president provided in what was literally his final hour in office.
But things are different now. Pirro is named along with Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo in the $2.7 billion lawsuit voting machine company Smartmatic has brought against Fox. All three are asking to have the claims against them dismissed, but just after the suit was filed Fox ended Dobbs’ show, which has been the highest-rated program on Fox Business. Meantime, the judge is now hosting a new travel show that I was tasked to write about for the Beast because, let’s be honest, I must be punished for my sins.
The show is on Fox Nation, a streaming site filled with shows that lack the production value of Fox News, which doesn’t have such great values itself though Fox and Friends does feature a curvy couch. Yes, Fox Nation is like Fox News but shabbier and worse. Most shows feature blond people, Bible stuff, and border stuff. My show, Castles, USA, doesn’t have any of that, though it does have lots of walls.
What is there to say about a travel show where a woman who screams at her viewers about Democrats and socialism visits American castles and gushes about things? I’d be hard-pressed to think of a less likely or more grating travel guide than Judge Box of Wine, but perhaps the people who tuned in to watch as she camped in the Westchester woods to try and ambush Hillary Clinton after her presidential loss (and a decade after Pirro lost a mortifying U.S. Senate race to Clinton) have always dreamed of visiting a castle with their favorite stalker.
Each episode begins with the judge sitting with a local historian, in what appear to be super-awkward and weirdly awful encounters. You can tell these historians are thrilled by the publicity, which somehow makes it oddly more painful. Imagine you’ve devoted your entire life to caring for and documenting a historic place and now you have a chance to share it and you’re sharing it with the angriest woman in conservative television. There’s something oddly jarring about Pirro cooing about closet sizes and fancy marble bathtubs. This is the woman who shrieks about liberal privilege for a living oohing and ahhing over a staircase.
“I can’t see a group of Proud Boys uncorking a nice bottle and watching the judge admiring a staircase. Maybe there’s a group of QAnon moms in Pasadena for whom this is the height of entertainment?”
I almost felt for the person watching her wandering through the grounds of Oheka Castle in Long Island, saying lots of obvious things about the house and the gardens. She seemed so excited by things that seem so stupid, demonstrating a childlike wonder about doors, windows, and roofs. At one point the judge walks down the stairs to mimic a scene in a Taylor Swift video. “This is a lovely bar! Can I serve you something?” the judge asks her host later.
There were other almost indistinguishable episodes, all about 20 minutes but they feel much longer.
I keep wondering who this show is for. I can’t see a group of Proud Boys uncorking a nice bottle and watching the judge admiring a staircase. Maybe there’s a group of QAnon moms in Pasadena for whom this is the height of entertainment?
There are Fox hosts whose politics I disagree with but who are talented enough to carry a travel show. Judge Box of Wine is not one of them.