Fox News anchors Shannon Bream, Harris Faulkner, Jennifer Griffin, Martha MacCallum and Sandra Smith spoke to the publication Swaay about working at Fox News, how they’re received by women outside of the workplace, feminism in general, and their views on Pres. Trump.
Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin, whose husband, NPR reporter Greg Myre is also employed by an outlet that has been rocked by allegations of workplace harassment, provided her thoughts on harassment in the media:
“I think that other networks have now learned [that] when there are predators in your midsts, it’s not that everybody knows,” said Griffin. “We went first so there was a lot of gloating at other networks saying ‘Oh everyone must have known.’ I can tell you I’ve been here more than 20 years and I did not know. I look back and I play back the reel and I think ‘how did I miss these signs?’ But I think what [we] are learning is that predators are pretty tricky and they can cover their tracks and divert attention from what they’re doing.”
Martha MacCallum, host of The Story, added her thoughts on the topic as well.
“I just kept feeling and knowing that the daily experience of working here was nothing like what was being described in the press,” said MacCallum. “Now, did things happen? And did we learn about them? Of course. But now that everybody else is going through what we went through to varying degrees, I think that the rest of the world gets it now.”
The phrase “Fox News” always elicits a strong reaction when brought up in conversation. Its fans are devoted to the network (it was the most-watched cable network of 2017). But many loathe the network.
Fox News @ Night anchor Shannon Bream, a sexual harassment attorney before entering TV news, recalled an experience at a Christmas party where she was asked by a fellow party goer what she did for a living. When she stated she worked at Fox News, the reaction wasn’t particularly positive.
“I said ‘I cover the Supreme Court for Fox News’ and literally a woman almost spilled her drink she was that taken aback,” said Bream. “Does it say something about you that automatically upon hearing that, your wall is up and you think that I’m the most horrible person you’ve ever met?
I think that a lot of times we are cutting through some of the misconceptions that are out there publicly,” said Bream.
Bream’s experience isn’t unique. Harris Faulkner’s position is even more complicated, being an African-American woman who works at Fox News.
“I’m straddling the fence in two senses as a black female,” she said. “There were times when I would walk into the building and I would get things shouted at me that were disgusting. Sometimes my Twitter, I couldn’t even look at it. But I also know you can’t fix anything from your house. We don’t cut and run. We’re a pretty tough bunch.
What we have to do is stand up and support each other when we decide to speak up. And to make sure that the apparatus is there for us to fix things when they break.”
Sandra Smith has faced similar criticism from people who judge her for where she works. She believes this hurts the growing feminist movement in this country, a movement that should be bi-partisan.
“Are we progressing or are we not?,” asked Smith. “Are we going backwards? It’s this idea that there are women who have a better idea of how you should behave, whether it’s politically, or with your families, or socially. When we talk about this divisiveness and this mistreatment of women by men, we need to start treating each other better, and respect people’s opinions, regardless of what they are.”
Then there’s Trump, and his constant praise of Fox News. MacCallum has mixed feelings about his praise.
“Whenever the President makes those comments about his favorite shows, it gets you a little bit, because you don’t want to be swept with a broad brush, and you want to be fair about your coverage of the presidency,” said MacCallum, adding that while Trump’s controversial management style may be new to the public, behind-the-scenes network favoritism in Washington has been going on for years.”
Griffin feels Trump’s praise is related to the opinion side of the network, not the news division.
“If anyone thinks that it’s always positive coverage, they need to go back and look at the difference in the news and opinion division,” she said. “If you go back to the campaign, and the presidential debates, I was among the first, if not the first television reporter to report that the FBI was looking into four members of the Trump campaign. That didn’t make me very popular at the time on Twitter, and nobody at Fox told me not to report on it.”