Fox News’ ‘Outnumbered’ Host Harris Faulkner Discusses the Role of Social Media in Journalism

And why politics tends to focus on women

 

Photo: Alfred Maskeroni

Specs

New gig Co-host of Fox News’ Outnumbered and anchor of Fox Report Weekend on Sundays

Old gig Anchor of Fox Report Weekend and breaking news anchor for Happening Now

Twitter @HarrisFaulkner

Age 48

How did you get started as a broadcast journalist?

I knew from a very young age that I was going to use my voice. I’ve basically sounded like this since I was 9. My dad was ex-military, so I was raised to always know about current events, particularly what was going on with the military and government. And I always loved storytelling. I got my first internship out of college at KCOP in Los Angeles, and the minute I walked into that newsroom, I was glued.

What was the origin of Outnumbered?

We had news across the day that was broken up into single-anchor, dual-anchor shows. I think that when [Fox News Channel CEO and chairman Roger Ailes] designed this, he really wanted to do something to break up that part of the day, grow the noon hour and make it different.

Why structure Outnumbered to include a panel of four women and one rotating male guest?

We have a lot of interesting, talented women at Fox News. Mr. Ailes really felt strongly that we needed to put as many assets on the screen as possible, and we had to have an element of unpredictability. I think a lot of people assume that this was put together for a gender component to be talked about all the time. But predominantly, we’re talking about the topics of the day. It’s impossible to turn the NATO Summit or breaking news about the president getting ready to go on Air Force One into a gender component. It was really about, who do I have in the building that I’d like to see and hear from, and how do I mix it up a little bit.

The Washington Post described Outnumbered as “a stroke of evil genius.” What’s your response to that?

I say thank you! I’m a motivational speaker, so I’m going to look at something in as much of a positive way as possible. Did you hear the word “genius” in that sentence?

There’s been a lot of criticism of how certain Fox News pundits, and politicians in general, treat women’s issues. Is Outnumbered a response to that?

We’re not creating the headlines, but I do think it’s interesting that, in general, politics is focused on women. If our response to what’s happening is to cover it, and we happen to have four women to talk about it, that’s a convenient thing to have.

You’re a big proponent of using social media in your reporting. Tell me about that.

I don’t believe that, at this point in our history, people feel like they’re being heard and that’s a reason that social media is so popular. I like it because it gives me instant feedback. If there’s something that we’re discussing that seems in the weeds, I may look down at my phone and I’ll say that “so-and-so from wherever says this about this subject,” and we’ll interject that into the conversation. It’s ownership for the viewer, and that keeps them engaged.

Is it getting harder to get people to sit down and watch TV news when they’re being constantly inundated with news via the Web and social media and mobile devices?

You’d think that, but no. First of all, people want you to sort and compartmentalize things so they know what’s most important. Social media doesn’t do that. The other thing is that when times get tough, people need to connect with one person, and they need that person to look them in the eye and tell them this is what’s happening and it’s going to be OK. I don’t think that social media jeopardizes in any way what we do. In fact, it puts an exclamation point on it.