While it may sound like the event will be focusing on the hot-button issue of criminal justice reform from a law-and-order vantage point, Faulkner says that it will delve into the personal issues that officers face including “an unbelievable wave of suicides.”
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Faulkner’s latest town hall comes as her show, Outnumbered Overtime, has reached a ratings milestone: It not only tops cable rivals at 1 PM, but lately it has been beating one of its broadcast competitors, ABC’s GMA3: Strahan, Sara & Keke, among total viewers.
According to Nielsen Media, the Harris Faulkner-hosted show has averaged 1.5 million viewers over the past five weeks, beating GMA3 with 1.4 million viewers. GMA3 still tops in the key adults 25-54 demo, with 376,000 viewers to 241,000 for Outnumbered Overtime, and the ABC show outpaces by a wider margin among its target demo of women 18-49 and women 25-54. The shows also don’t go head to head in every time zone, as Fox News has a live feed and ABC stations adjust their schedules for the time difference.
But the news-obsessed culture shows little sign of subsiding anytime soon. Outnumbered Overtime has beaten GMA3 in total viewers 34 times since mid-summer — before the impeachment inquiry. But that story, and its hour-by-hour drama and bombshells, is likely to transfix news audiences for the next few weeks if not months.
Faulkner has not been part of some of the public on-air tensions at Fox News between news and opinion personalities, but she did praise Shepard Smith, who anchored the 3 PM hour, after he made the surprise announcement on October 11 that he was leaving the network.
“When I first got to Fox News my break came sub-anchoring for Shep,” she wrote on Twitter. “It was an honor and privilege to sit on his set. Imagine great things are on the horizon for him. Go get ’em Shep!”
Before Smith’s departure, Faulkner talked about why she thinks a hard news show has been beating rivals in daytime, about President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media, and about the reports of tensions between news and opinion.
DEADLINE: Your show has had a ratings milestone — which may be a bit unusual for a hard news show in daytime, which has traditionally had a softer focus.
FAULKNER: Celebrities used to be water cooler. Regardless of what all the research says about don’t talk about politics at work, people are talking about what they see on the news. All of the lighter stuff has a role and it plays a role and it is fun, but it may not be the complete focal point in the middle of the day any longer.
[On Outnumbered Overtime] They are going to get all sides. It is not opinion television; it is multi- opinion television. It is Democrats, independents, Republicans. I try to bring everybody to the table because I truly believe that it is not about who is right, but what is right. And I have a reputation for that.
DEADLINE: Has it become more difficult in real time to fact check your guests?
FAULKNER: I do think it is more difficult for a host of reasons. The guests who come on sometimes will have an agenda. And a news person, you have got to be able to not just fact check them, but “mission check” them. My mission is not theirs. I am not an opinion person. So if I feel like we are going too far down the road, I am going to check it and I am going to come back with some different types of questions. That is my job.
Sometimes you will hear me say right on the air, “You just cited a poll that is not even part of Real Clear Politics,” which is an average, an aggregate. Yours is seeming to be an outlier. Give me the name of that poll and the date that it was taken. I will say it right on the air. If there is something I don’t know and I suspect that I need clarification and so does the viewer, I just ask for it.
DEADLINE: What was the biggest challenge when you interviewed President Trump last December?
The challenge was really to hone in on the issues in a moment’s notice with a shrinking amount of time with the President of the United States. No one sat down with him from network television for quite some time after that, like through the holidays.
[During the interview, Faulkner broke some news on the heels of the sentencing of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. She asked the president why he hired Cohen in the first place.]
DEADLINE: What did you think about the reaction to the interview? There was praise, but also some criticism about one of the lighter questions, “What do you love about being President?”
FAULKNER: I had one light question at the end that I have asked every powerful person I have ever interviewed. I took grief for that question because people couldn’t understand why you would want to know why someone loves or doesn’t love being the President of the United States. I don’t agree. I think that is something that the American people might be curious about. Especially since we know that, at least in recent history, many people who have run for President are not light in the wallet. They can go do anything they want. So when they make the determination that they are going to do this job, which is hard and perforated by disasters and everything else, why do they stick with it? Seven or eight months ago, people were not talking about reelection the way that they are talking about it now. So I felt like it was time to ask that question, and I knew my time was limited, and I would get a relatively short answer [before] we had to wrap.
But that wasn’t the surprise of the interview the way it was written about. Sometimes I get slammed because I work at Fox and I am black. People are like, “How could you work there? Who are you?” People really want to know what are your politics personally. Some of them, not everybody. But that wasn’t the surprise for me in that interview. When the President said that he should never have hired Michael Cohen and that he had made a mistake, my phone blew up after that interview. They were like, “When he said that, did you stop rolling?” I said, “You did watch the interview, right?” Of course not.
I love what I do, and I think there is enough heart and passion to go around to get us through the tough spots. I think impeachment is a tough spot right now because the nation is so divided. And politics are so visceral in a negative way. I am looking for the spots where people will open up and work together. The president, the Democrats and the Republicans are looking at the USMCA and trade, and they are looking at infrastructure and they are looking at some things. And what I tell people is, be focused on that. Because we already know what the division is. Can we look at the additions, and not always subtraction and division.
DEADLINE: In light of the impeachment inquiry, the President has labeled the media as “corrupt.” Not all of the media but much of the media. What do you think of that?
FAULKNER: I think we have got to get it right as much as we can. And that he is expressing what a lot of people think. And I wish it weren’t true. And I wish it weren’t ever true.
It is unfortunate that there are mistakes being made, but do I think that it is being driven by some sort of coordinated corruption? With all my heart I don’t. But I also understand that politically, it helps a whole host of people from different political parties, for them to say, “Well the media got it wrong. This is how they are.” … We are never going to be perfect, but we better be perfect in our drive and hunger to get the facts.
DEADLINE: Has there been more tension at Fox News between the editorial side and the opinion side?
FAULKNER: Let me just start with a headline. I do not like shooting inside the tent. I do not like it. So what I like about Fox News and what has always been true is, you have people with different opinions and ways of getting to the facts, and we have always lived inside a tent together. There is usually a large spread of information and that is for everybody to get a little nibble and to stand up for the things that they believe in. So I think where you are going with this is, “Is there more tension than ever?’ I don’t think there is. I think this is the way we always have been.
DEADLINE: What can we expect from the upcoming town hall (which will air at 8 PM ET)?
FAULKNER: We are looking at right now at an unbelievable wave of suicides among police officers. It is the kind of trend we have to stop. Look, I am not sticking my head in the sand. I know that we have had some bad apples with racial issues and so on. We have seen riots. I live in the skin so I see it all types of ways. But hitting police officers with buckets of water and that sort of thing is trying to start something. And there are police officers feeling we better not arrest anyone we don’t know how that will play. There’s politics involved. It is time, appointment television for people to tune in and say, “Well let’s look at the nitty gritty here.”