The pride of Wyckoff, New Jersey, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum is stepping into the network’s coveted 7 p.m. ET time slot this evening to host The First 100 Days, a new series which will track Pres.-elect Trump’s performance during this crucial time period in American history. “I think the first 100 days is always a historic period, and a show like this provides a way to measure progress and to pivot against what the administration says that it wants to accomplish in those 100 days,” said MacCallum.
TVNewser spoke with the new 7 p.m. host about the new show, what she expects from Trump in those first 100 days, notable network talent departures, and her previous life in the performing arts world.
TVNewser: What do you think could trip up Pres.-elect Trump in his first 100 days? He has promised to accomplish a lot from the get-go.
MacCallum: Reality. Based on history, many presidents come into office with lots of plans, and an agenda and things they want to start and an order in which they want to do those things. It’s the outside element and the unexpected that usually throws those plans into tumult. The test of a president is how he handles that. That will be the greatest challenge for him, as I think it is for anyone who becomes President of the United States. It’s how to effectively deal with what comes at you. I think he has a pretty good handle on what he wants to achieve, but his presidency will be tested.
TVNewser: Who will be producing your show? Will you be taking some of your America’s Newsroom producers with you to 7 p.m.?
MacCallum: It will be a bit of a mix. Some will come from America’s Newsroom, but most of the show’s staff members were already working in prime time prior to this show. We truly have a terrific team.
TVNewser: A number of women have left the company within the past 12 months, but you recently signed a long-term deal to stick around. Why?
MacCallum: Honestly, I have had a very positive work environment and career at Fox News. I really like the people I work with. What has been portrayed out there doesn’t really match up with my experience. I have no reason to leave. I think what happened over the summer represented a very tough time for all of us. The decisions were made recently by Megyn (Kelly) and by Greta (Van Susteren), who decided to leave a few months ago and has now found a new home. I’m very happy for Greta by the way because she’s such a great person. I think that Megyn’s decision was really based more on what she wanted to do in the next chapter of her professional life rather than personally. We are good friends. I wish her well, and I think she is going to do really well over there.
TVNewser: OK, so tell us about the program.
MacCallum: I love the construct of it. I love the idea of doing a show in the first 100 days. We are a news program. We are coming right out of Special Report with Bret Baier, which is the network’s established political show of record, and we’ll be right before O’Reilly. I think we have a really great spot in the evening to bridge that gap. We will do some analysis with our panels. We will try to get feedback from people in a town hall environment, and voter reaction to how they think the president-elect is doing. I think the voices of regular folks have a place in this kind of show that didn’t exist in the show we did in the mornings. It will be really fascinating.
I don’t think anybody expects 100 percent from this administration. I think if any president gets 30 – 35 percent of the agenda done within those first 100 days, I think it’s a pretty big accomplishment. We know Donald Trump wants to hit his goals ahead of time, and under budget. We will be holding him to that aim as well. There are people who are tremendously supportive of this incoming president, and there are people who want him to fail, and who think that he wasn’t fit for office. His work is cut out for him to be president of all the people of this country, and he does seem to build relationships with people who don’t like him. We will see how he does on that. Will he be able to bridge that gap and be able to get people to think differently about him?
TVNewser: You have a performing arts background. Over time, have you found yourself tapping into that experience in your role as a TV journalist?
MacCallum: At that time in my life, which was a long time ago when I was studying theater and directing some plays in New York, it would have seemed very odd to me that there would be any type of connection between art and news. However, at a very basic level, the training helped me to connect with people. That part of it absolutely was great training for my career.