On August 11, 2022, Fox News Channel announced Shannon Bream as the new full-time moderator of Fox News Sunday, becoming the first woman to lead the Sunday public affairs show in its 26-year history.
Bream emerged victorious from a lengthy on-air tryout process that transpired after the show’s previous moderator Chris Wallace abruptly left Fox News for CNN eight months earlier.
Bream’s journey to achieving one of the top on-air roles at the network was not an easy one. She joined Fox News all the way back in 2007—and worked her way up the ladder from Supreme Court correspondent to chief legal correspondent. She was named the inaugural anchor of Fox News @ Night, launching the late-night newscast in October 2017 before ascending to the Sunday show moderator position.
Bream’s first broadcast as Fox News Sunday moderator was exactly one year ago today, and we spoke with her last week about how the public affairs show has evolved during her brief time at the helm, keeping the format relevant in 2023, what to expect from Fox News Sunday going forward and words of wisdom she has for incoming Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker.
The Q&A below has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity purposes.
TVNewser: How has Fox News Sunday evolved from when you stepped into the role at this time last year?
Bream: We’re including a lot of different voices. I think you’ll see our panels have a mix of ideologies, ages, backgrounds and generations of people. We wanted to shake that up a little bit.
We’ve included athletes and superstar Grammy Award-winning artists. It’s just a mix of people, along with what at the heart of the program isn’t going to change, which is all the political coverage too.
Talk about how you prepare for the weekly Sunday show on a broadcast network versus how you were preparing for your late-night cable newscast?
It’s very different. We’re always starting conversations, ongoing conversations with lawmakers on the [Capitol] Hill, with the White House, talking about different guests, different topics that we hope they’ll come and join us on the show and provide a voice for what we’re talking about. So it’s very collaborative. This team is a lean, mean machine, and many of these folks have been here long before I was around even at Fox. They’ve got a depth of institutional knowledge. They’ve got these relationships on the Hill and at the White House, and so we’re trying to leverage all those things.
The minute literally the show is over on Sunday, we have an email about the next week about who we have locked in, or who we’re trying to lock in, the topics that we think will be important. Washington has a little bit of predictability with its schedule, so we try to schedule with that in mind and book with that in mind. Then, there are Friday afternoon news drops that involve indictments and numbers on the border and other things. We try to be as flexible as possible, have a good skeleton going into the week, but then be able to pivot where we need to.
The presidential campaign season is underway and 2024 is right around the corner. Anything new we should be on the lookout for from Fox News Sunday starting early next year? Whether it be new segments, new format, etc.
Given my background as an attorney, we have done a lot of legal segments, and I feel like we’re in an excellent position to move forward with that. Whether it’s getting former Attorney General Bill Barr on — I’ve talked with the current Attorney General Merrick Garland about possibly coming on sometime. I think that’s going to be a headline-maker.
Having excellent “legal eagles” who can jump in with us, people who are former members of the DOJ, criminal defense attorneys, we’ve got a good broad range of people in the legal field. I really enjoy those segments. They feel like home to me because of my previous career.
I think over the next year that’s going to be a good place to be because it’s just going to be nonstop, whether it’s involving the former president, who looks like he is on a rocket ship to the GOP nomination, if nothing changes; to whether the sitting president son [Hunter Biden] is drawn into things that will then force this White House to have to get involved with legal measures as well.
There’s been criticism of the Sunday show format over the last several years and whether it’s still relevant in this age of minute-by-minute news updates and increasing political polarization. Can you touch on how it’s still possible for the Sunday format to remain successful in its original pursuit of informing and educating Americans about public affairs?
To me, the real beauty of the show is that you get to do a deep dive. It’s not a two or three minute segment, or if we’re talking social media a 10 or 30 seconds bite of news or information. You really get to dig deeper with people, and it gives you a chance to get them off their talking points, because if they stick around for eight to 10 to 12 minutes, you really get to probe more deeply.
I also think it’s very important to change the faces and the names. Keep the tried and true experts and people who have a depth of knowledge here in Washington, but also shake up the panels and bring in people who are unexpected, who may come from a different place. I have to recognize now there’s a generation behind me that gets their news through social media. How do we leverage that? We go there, we go talk to them where they’re at. We try to post our newsmaker interviews on social media as well so that we can reach people where they’re at.
One of the things we’ve seen growth with Fox News Sunday over the last year is younger viewers. We’re skewing younger, we’re bringing in hopefully the next generation in a way where the topics are relevant to them. This is their country, what happens now and the decisions that are made now are going to impact their generation and their kids. When it comes to finances, whether they can buy a home, how do they pay for college, all of those things, I think are really important to viewers of all ages.
With TV and TV news changing more than ever, how can the program adapt in the future? Can Fox News Sunday franchise expand into digital? Podcasts, perhaps? How do you keep the conversation going the other six days of the week?
We have two podcasts. We have one, Fox News Sunday, and it basically gives you all of the best newsmaker interviews from the show so you can hear the show in full. I know for me, I go for a run with a dog, I like to put on a podcast and and if I was not able to see the show live on Sunday, we always encourage you to DVR and there’s a replay on Fox News Channel. But for a lot of people, they do digest their news through podcasts.
I also have a “Livin’ the Bream” podcast. We thought that title maybe was just cheesy enough to get people’s attention. That’s a mix of newsmakers, but also as authors, musicians, athletes, different people who are thought leaders and who are provocative. We try to make sure that during the week we have fresh new material for people too, aside from the show.
Perhaps you’ve heard that Kristen Welker is stepping into the Meet the Press moderator role over at NBC next week. From one Sunday show moderator to another, what’s a piece advice you’d have for her?
Stay the course.
I thought she was an excellent [2020 presidential] debate moderator. I welcome her to the party, and hopefully she will just continue to be the fantastic journalist that she is; and person too. She’s just somebody that all around Washington and beyond you hear only good things about. I’m excited that she’s going to join what has basically turned into “the ladies show” on the weekends almost all the time [Margaret Brennan moderates CBS’ Face the Nation, Martha Raddatz co-moderates ABC’s This Week, Dana Bash co-moderates CNN’s State of the Union]. All of the Sunday shows have a strong presence of a female host. Welcome to the party!
Any new books in the works? I’m aware your [faith-based] titles under the Fox News Books umbrella have sold well.
Thanks to our viewers, we’ve had three back-to-back New York Times bestsellers. Thank you to everyone out there who has invested.
I’ve learned so much from every one of these books, they’ve been a comfort to me during a very divided time. I hope that they’ve put some good into the world.
I am working on a fiction book, which will be my first stab at this. It is another skill I’m working on learning, but I’ve got a long way to go. Luckily, I have a lot of friends who are very successful in this field, including other journalists who have been very good fiction writers, and have had success with it. So I’m bouncing a lot of ideas off of them. As I put that book together, hopefully in the next year or two, it’ll be out.