Eric Bolling has made a name for himself as an outspoken conservative commentator who isn't afraid to make his voice heard -- loud and clear -- on the important issues of the day.
The host of FOX Business' "Follow the Money" and FOX News' "The Five," Bolling has an intriguing background that, in many ways, explains how he has landed on the conservative side of the aisle. I had the opportunity to interview him earlier this week and we delved into a number of subjects -- his faith, background and his take on some of the most interesting people in politics and media (including leftist and co-host Bob Beckel).
Among the elements we discussed, his upbringing was the most intriguing. Bolling, who has by all indicators become a major success, comes from a very humble background. In fact, his rise to on-air prominence isn't something the commentator would have predicted years ago when he was growing up in the inner-city of Chicago.
He comes from a very poor background -- one that, in many ways, motivated him to work diligently toward success later in life.
"I always had that need to get myself out of [poverty]," Bolling explained.
While he says that his parents didn't have a lot, they were hard workers who instilled in him important values and ethics. Those elements helped catapult him forward, later igniting his career and leading him to media success.
"We didn’t have a lot, but they [his parents] were always like, 'That’s what you want to be,'" he explained, highlighting that his parents would point out examples of success and encourage him to strive towards them. "They instilled that in me."
Bolling described a defining childhood moment, during which he first realized that there is, indeed, a class structure in American society.
"When I was young 10 or 11 year old my mom took me to buy sneakers," he explains. "I wanted the PRO-Keds, and she said 'We can't afford them.' It was the first time I realized there were classes -- and we weren’t part of the class that could afford PRO-Keds."
Following college, Bolling hit the ground running when he was drafted in 1984 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Having made his way onto the ball field, he was looking forward to a long and prosperous career. Unfortunately, life threw a curve ball when the young player suffered a tear in his rotator cuff.
"I was let go by [the team] right away," he said. "I was then thrust into this world of 'now what.' So, I went back to Chicago and tried to figure things out...baseball was all I knew."
Having set his sights on a long baseball career, this new reality -- that he would need to choose another path -- was difficult for Bolling. But it wasn't long before his drive and determination to progress landed him in New York City, where his unique career in business and media began to take form.
Bolling became an independent trader based out of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). When he rallied enough money, he leased a seat and worked for himself, eventually serving as both a strategic advisor and on the NYMEX's Board of Directors.
"I found myself on the trading floor in New York," he said. "I was self-motivated and worked for myself and put it together."
So, where did his career in media begin, you ask? Well, according to Bolling, around his 16th or 17th year trading commodities, he spoke with a CNBC reporter. Inevitably, he made such a positive impression after explaining his business knowledge that the network found interest in his expertise. As a result, he became a panelist on "Fast Money," a show featuring stock tips and market information.
Later, FOX News came calling and the rest is -- well -- history. Today, Bolling is a staple at both the news and business networks, as his unique and unabashed commentary often adds elements of intrigue and entertainment to on-air discussions.
When it comes to his daily gig on FOX's "The Five," Bolling couldn't be more enthralled by the experience. "I love it," he said, as he enthusiastically described his fellow hosts -- especially the ever-liberal Bob Beckel.
"Look at what I get to do. I get to sit next to the most lovable leftwing nut," he jokingly said (clearly referring to Beckel). "I can fight with him for the full hour and the minute we walk outside -- if someone says something bad about Bob, I’ll step out and defend him."
It should come as no surprise that Beckel is Bolling's favorite co-host to spar with.
"Sometimes, we take over the segment more than the other hosts would like," Bolling quipped. "He’ll throw stuff out there -- he'll throw a number out there and expect it to go unnoticed."
Bolling was also candid about his appreciation and admiration for FOX News President Roger Ailes.
"The man has reinvented cable news," he said. "The guy sees dead people in TV news."
But Ailes wasn't the only person who Bolling mentioned when I asked him to name the most impressive individual he's encountered in media and politics. He went on to say, "If I could spend a weekend with five people -- it would be Glenn Beck, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Ailes."
Bolling has made headlines in recent months for his defense of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and his on-air sparring with a well-known atheist. During our discussion, Bolling addressed the attacks on Tebow, atheism and the War on Christmas, among other subjects. Based on our interview and his intensive on-air defense of Tebow, faith is clearly important to the commentator.
"I've been a Catholic – a Christian -- my whole life. I go to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral every day and I light candles," he said. "It's important for me to stand up for Christianity."
To Bolling, defending Tebow is simply the right thing to do. He dismissed comedian Bill Maher's attacks on the football player as "a need to be in the public eye" and stated his belief that atheists' attacks on Christmas intensified in 2011.
"Why is it that some of these atheists and liberal hate-mongers are willing to trash Christianity, but they tiptoe around Islam and other faiths?," he asked. "But they have no problem trashing Christianity. I felt the needed to stand up and call Bill Maher out for what he is -- a hateful atheist whose using Tebow for his own buzz."
On the topic of atheism, we also discussed a recent appearance on Bolling's "Follow the Money" by Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The exchange made headlines when Bolling threw Barker off the air, as the two discussed Christianity and the FFRF's attacks on nativities and other Christian symbols.
Watch the incident, below:
"He was looking for the platform to spew anti-Christian rhetoric," Bolling explained. "I threw him off the show -- it was spontaneous. The third time I asked him to stop [the rhetoric] I threw him off."
The interview with Bolling was refreshing on a number of levels. Rather than weighing his comments intensely, he was honest and open, while candidly sharing his stance on a wide array of situations and issues. Perhaps he was taking his own advice, which he gave when speaking about politicians -- "Don’t change -- be true to yourself and be true in all aspects."