In the world of cable news, few things are more satisfying than a good, old-fashioned, live-TV meltdown.
Whether it’s pundits twisting themselves into pretzels to defend politicians, or partisan network hosts parroting talking points, 2017 was rife with TV subjects spontaneously combusting while the cameras were rolling.
In that vein, here are the 8 craziest cable TV freak outs of 2017, in all their epically insane glory:
1. Tucker Carlson loses it when a guest calls him a Nazi sympathizer:
Fox News host and onetime bowtie aficionado Tucker Carlson has had a very good year. In April, he took over the network’s 8 p.m time slot after sexual harassment allegations forced out cable TV freak out legend Bill O’Reilly. That move lead to a series of viral interviews and even a semi-flattering profile in GQ.
Tucker’s combative interview style, complete with his signature facial expression (brow furrowed, mouth agape—a look that conveys genuine confusion mixed with deep-seated self-assuredness) has become somewhat of an internet meme, but it still hasn’t helped Carlson escape accusations he’s taking white nationalism mainstream.
Which brings us to this July 12 interview with Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a Fox News military expert who was surprised by Carlson’s dismissive attitude toward autocratic strongman Vladimir Putin.
“You sound like Charles Lindbergh in 1938 saying, ‘Hitler hasn’t attacked us,’” Peters told Carlson.
“I beg your pardon,” a shocked—shocked!—Carlson replied. “Slow down, colonel, slow down. You cannot compare me to someone who makes apologies for Hitler.”
“I think it’s grotesque actually—I think it’s insane!” the Fox News host continued, growing visibly agitated. “You just compared me to a Nazi apologist—slow down, slow down!”
Tucker throws a fit when Lt. Col. Ralph Peters calls him out for defending Putin and compares Tucker to Lindbergh's comments on Hitler. pic.twitter.com/QgJGzU1GXf
— Richard W. (@IceManNYR) July 12, 2017
2. Judge Jeanine leads "lock her up" chant over Trump-Russia dossier:
Less than a month before she was ticketed for driving 119 m.p.h, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro indicted Hillary Clinton on charges of, uh, being Hillary Clinton, telling viewers in an 8-minute rant that “it’s time to jail” Donald Trump’s former political opponent.
“It’s time, folks. It’s time to shut it down, turn the tables, and lock her up. That’s what I said. I actually said it. Lock her up,” Pirro said during her opening monologue on the Oct. 29 episode “Justice with Jeanine.”
Pirro also called for the disbandment of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.
“The special counsel’s office must be shut down,” Pirro said, calling it “nothing more than a cabal of individuals relying on false evidence to impeach Donald Trump.”
Pirro was reacting to reports that the unverified and salacious Trump-Russia dossier was originally funded by a Republican rival of Trump’s during the GOP primary, and later bankrolled by the DNC.
Of course, Clinton herself didn’t even know about the dossier until after Buzzfeed published it, but it’s hard to care about the facts when you’re full of white-hot rage.
3. Sean Hannity self-destructs while referring to Hillary as "President Clinton”:
In one of the most telling segments of 2017, Fox News’ human megaphone Sean Hannity—who’s spent the entire year desperately trying to avoid talking about the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe—gave new meaning to the phrase “alternative facts” when he referred to “President [Hillary] Clinton” in a long-winded segment about the apparently life-long Trump rival.
During the unhinged October 30 rant (which he described as “one of [his] most important monologues” ever), Hannity tried to deflect from news that two former Trump campaign aides had just been charged in Mueller’s investigation by leading a one-man impeachment hearing against the person who, electoral college notwithstanding, would have definitely been president.
“Tonight we have a major crisis in this country,” Hannity said between gasps for air. “Does America have equal justice under the law? It appears tonight the answer is no. Because from everything we now know there is one justice system for the Clintons, the left, liberals and all their cronies, and another one for everyone else in America.”
“What did President Clinton—or President Clinton wannabe—President Obama, and key members of the administration, what did they know about the Uranium One scandal?” Hannity asked, before going on to list all of the laws he believes definitely-not-president Clinton broke.
In fairness to Hannity, the day before his monologue, Clinton had told attendees at a Human Rights Campaign dinner, “Fox News seems to think that’s where I live, in the White House,” so maybe Hannity thought she should win just this once.
4. Maria Bartiromo can't handle Democrat’s special election victory:
After Democrats swept the November special election—picking up surprising victories in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere—Fox News host and longtime Trump pal Maria Bartiromo brought on Tom Perez, expecting to nail the DNC chairman over the party’s efforts to elect Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries.
Unfortunately for Bartiromo, Perez was only interested in touting the Democratic Party’s massive success the night before—leaving an incredulous Bartiromo to repeatedly shout talking points about a “rigged” system and the DNC’s hacked emails.
At one point, Perez nicely summed up Bartiromo’s flailing performance. “Maria, you are in a fictional wonderland right now,” he said, with a smirk.
5. "Malfunctioning droid" Carter Page melts down in bizarre interviews:
As far as characters in the Trump Show go, the unapologetically pro-Russia Carter Page is the gift that keeps on giving. From his wide-eyed gaze to his bright red bucket hat, we can always rely on Page to provide gripping—if sometimes deeply unsettling—live television.
Such was the case in the week immediately after former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted. In two separate interviews (one with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, and another with CNN’s Jake Tapper), Page—whose communications have been monitored by two separate FISA warrants—demurred, deflected, and at one point “legit foamed at the mouth.” His performance in those segments raised questions over whether he was a real human person or, in fact, a “malfunctioning droid.”
Viewers walked away from those sit-downs having discerned little-to-know new or valuable information. Except, perhaps that Page is in desperate need of a new attorney (or, as he put it, “informal advisors and a formal advisor”).
6. Kellyanne Conway goes full-on "Mean Girls,” tells CNN host to "stop being so jealous of Fox News”:
No list of major media meltdowns would be complete without Kellyanne Conway, whose camera work on behalf of the Trump administration is second to none. Conway, the reigning queen of “alternative facts,” is a spin-master, someone whose ability to pivot would be awe-inspiring were not incredibly disturbing.
There’s no shortage of epic Conway TV moments to choose from (who can forget the time she brought flashcards to Fox News to explain the Trump-Russia “illusion delusion”?) But it was her ridiculous interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter that took the no-carb cake when Conway channeled her inner “Mean Girl” to dance around questions of the president’s historically low approval ratings.
“I understand that you don’t want an adversarial media,” Stelter told Conway. “I guess you just want everybody to be like Fox News.”
“Stop being so jealous of Fox News,” Conway snapped back. “I think that would help if you dropped the jealousy a little bit about Fox News.”
Stelter later called out Conway for bringing up Clinton when asked about the Trump-Russia dossier. “I think viewers see your pivot,” Stelter said. “When I say Russia, you say Clinton. It’s part of a strategy.”
“I would be happy to never talk about the 2016 election again,” Conway said, you know—like
a lie an alternative fact.
7. Meghan McCain blows up at Joy Behar for dubbing Fox News "sexual harassment central":
Meghan McCain is a welcome addition to The View table—a smart, principled conservative, she does her best to provide perspective to a dynamic group of liberal-leaning women.
But as a former Fox News host, she took great personal offense to a jab by comedian Joy Behar against the network, landing on our list of crazy freak outs in 2017.
The hosts were discussing allegations of sexual misconduct against Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and Trump’s decision to chime in on the charges. McCain noted it wasn’t just Republicans calling for Franken’s resignation, but “a lot Democrats” who were recommending he step down.
“If you can believe it, I don’t just watch Fox,” McCain said.
“Fox is sexual harassment central, hello!” Behar quipped, prompting McCain to lose it.
“You know what, that’s so cheap!” McCain shot back. “I’m trying to talk about the fact that I’m watching other networks and people in your party are calling for the stepping down of Al Franken because of this investigation.”
As Whoopi Goldberg tried to understand what was happening, McCain pulled a classic passive-aggressive move, insisting “it’s fine,” when it clearly wasn’t fine—which was on full display just a few moments she later when she snapped at Behar again for disparaging Fox.
Of course, the Murdoch family in August disclosed that Fox News Channel’s parent company shelled out $50 million from “settlements of claims arising out of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at the Company’s Fox News Channel business,” so maybe in this case it’s prudent to pick your battles.
8. Trump supporter goes on insane "I love boobs!" rant during bonkers takedown of ESPN:
The boobs heard ‘round the world. Of all the shocking and downright insane moments that’ve transpired on cable TV in 2017, none flummoxed viewers (and CNN’s Brooke Baldwin) quite like this.
The date was Sept. 15. The topic of conversation? The controversy surrounding ESPNS’s Jemele Hill. And for some completely inexplicable reason, Fox News Sports reporter Clay Travis proudly proclaimed, unprompted, on live TV: “I’m a First Amendment absolutist and believe in two things completely: The First Amendment and boobs.”
After discerning that Travis did, in fact, just declare he “believes in boobs,” Baldwin noted that was an insanely inappropriate thing to say to a female TV host and ended the conversation early. But not before Travis pressed her on whether she “loves boobs, too?”
2017, ya’ll! 2017.