With one year under its stilettos, Fox News Channel’s hit mid-day, mostly female Outnumbered has a lot to celebrate. The NoonET show has grown the timeslot +57 percent in viewers and +34 percent in the A25-54 demo since its launch April 28, 2014.
TVNewser was invited to attend the anniversary episode and sit down for a frank discussion with the cast, and enjoy some celebratory cake (we only had one piece, seriously). Harris Faulkner, Sandra Smith, Andrea Tantaros and Lisa ‘Kennedy’ Montgomery were joined by “One Lucky Guy” Pete Hegseth, an Army National Guardsman and Fox News analyst.
We began by asking how closely they follow the ratings:
Faulkner: I don’t look at them everyday. I think that sometimes the conversations come from outside of our group, we’ll read something on TVNewser about how we’re doing and I’ll be like, ‘wow, we must be doing OK’ I’m very well aware, and I think we all are, of Fox News Channel’s place in history right now and some of the records we’re setting but we don’t concentrate on that as a group. We just wanna blow it out.
Smith: We didn’t look too much in the first few months of the show, either. It just really wasn’t that important as the show began to take hold.
Tantaros: It’s important, I think, if we do it… we do it to make sure we see what viewers are responding to and what stories they’re interested in.
On being compared to The View:
Faulkner: We’re just so different. I don’t give it the kind of thought that people probably think we do. In the beginning people compared us to The View, but our compass points due news. Our middle name is Fox News Channel. We do something that the other shows just don’t do, we’re a true hybrid. We don’t just cover the news, we cover breaking news as it’s happening. Then we can come out an put that in context.
Smith: Who is on The View these days? I’m joking… joking. The reason for my joke is this, we’re a show made up of journalists. Obviously we have a man that sits in the middle of the sofa. Beyond journalists we have various guests that come one here, rotating co-hosts, who have different backgrounds and different expertise. We focus on that in our conversation. Compared to other daytime shows with Hollywood actresses, which is good, too, because we also have that perspective on this couch when we have Stacey Dash on. We have so many different backgrounds, political, breaking news, entertainment and my business background. Pete’s got a military background. Everyone has an expertise that shines through the show.
Tantaros: You really have to listen [to breaking news] with a keen ear so you can acutely hear what the bullet points are and what people will be talking about for the rest of the day. What will be driving primetime? That’s what we try to do, and when we have breaking news on so many subjects, that is the benefit that we bring that The View doesn’t.TVNewser’s Brian Flood on the Outnumbered couch.
On being told that Outnumbered is beating The View in certain markets.
(Outnumbered outpaces or ties similar programs on broadcast networks, including ABC’s The View and The Talk in 10 national markets across the country).
Faulkner: You’re breaking news apparently for Pete (who looked surprised).
Hegseth: Well, I didn’t know that. I know it rates really well.
On each other:
Faulkner: Can I brag about Andrea for just a second? Not only is she one of the quickest political minds in the country, when people quote her and you read back what she says, she has the ability to take what is breaking, put it in that context and that’s our blessing here. To have someone put [breaking news] into context, and put it into words that Americans can talk about at the water cooler. She makes it have meaning.
Kennedy: I agree, she processes things very quickly.
Tantaros: We’ve had major stock market issues, and do you know how valuable it is in those moments to be able to look over and say, ‘Sandra’s got it.’ We play like a polished professional team. We know each other’s strengths, I can see when someone wants to jump in. That’s really magical. The chemistry is why other shows fail. Pete is a veteran, he’s served on the battlefield. Kennedy is a libertarian, so she brings a very different point of view. But she also has a huge career that has spanned decades. She knows more than anyone about the music industry, and politics and the Constitution, we have our fights.
Kennedy: I like the Constitution.
Tantaros: I do, too! That is where we agree, we actually fight over other stuff. But to be able to come to work with people you respect, love and have fun… we’re just very blessed. They don’t have that on those other shows.
Faulkner: Kennedy is actually one of the funniest people on the planet.
(Kennedy then proceeded to hum an entire song, turning her mouth into a horn. It was very impressive.)
Tantaros: Sometimes I actually can’t look at her. I prefer to be seated next to her because I can’t make eye contact with her.
On the biggest news story that broke while Outnumbered was live:
Smith: My initial reaction, correct me if I’m wrong.. but ISIS beheadings. We’ve gotten word on that during the hour.
Faulkner: The James Foley announcement.
Tantaros: And then he [President Obama] went golfing.
Faulkner: I think just watching that live, and then coming back to the couch, I remember that day. It’s the only time I remember this here, there was a pause. We were like, “what the heck just happened?”
Smith: Ainsley [Earhardt] was in tears. It was very, very moving.
On the preparation that goes into each show:
Faulkner: The introductions to the segments are scripted. You want to have some production to the show. Most of the time they’re 30 seconds or less [the rest is ad-lib], we might toss to a sound bite or something like that, and you’ll see us have notes. But what I love about it is, I’ll look over, and this is how I know Sandra’s serious about something. She’ll come out with prepared notes go “you know what” and toss the notes. That’s when I know it’s going to be good.
Kennedy: Well, you do have to prepare for the topics.We’re all responsible editorially for the content of the show.
Tantaros: Starting, litterally right now, a producer is sending out an email, and we all start pitching stories for the next day. That happens through the night, middle of the night, early in the morning and up until the show begins we’re still deciding what we’re going to lead with, what the content of the hour is going to be. We’re willing to adjust based on what the news is.
On the most outrageous “One Lucky Guy:”
Smith: I think of outrageous as a good thing. I would say Gene Simmons. He was one of the most colorful.
Faulkner: Tommy Chong was wonderful. Dr. Keith Ablow called the First Lady fat. He’s got a way of dropping the mic.
Kennedy: He doesn’t back down, we’ve fought, too.
Faulkner: Joe Theismann sat here. That guy came to play. He was ready.
On whether they stir the pot to make news and cause controversy:
Kennedy: It depends on what we’re saying. If they’re going to take our quotes and highlight simply what the quote is and be fair, that’s one thing.
Tantaros: I know we don’t throw out quotes just to be outrageous here. What is troubling is that certain media outlets will take what we say and cut it. Distort it and take it out of context. That’s not real journalism.
Faulkner: One thing that has been very successful for us is that we have organic responses. We don’t edit each other. As long as they don’t take us out of context, they can clip whatever they want. Just spell our names right.
Hegseth: As the guy here, you have to know when to talk (this is his first comment during the discussion). This interview right here is about these ladies. The whole show is about these ladies. The One Lucky Guy thing is great, but I sit here and learn.