Originally posted Saturday, October 26, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Atlanta native Harris Faulkner is one of Fox News’ most recognizable day-side hosts as her 1 p.m. news show is regularly pulling in more viewers in key demos than ABC’s new “GMA” afternoon show.
She has also hosted the noon talk show “Outnumbered” since 2014 and is known as the most prominent minority host on the network. Donald Trump gave her an extensive interview last December, which included some tough questions blended with softer ones.
Faulkner is also the network’s go-to person for town halls, including one this Sunday focused on the dangers police officers face in 2019.
“We’ve become blessed with success,” she said in a recent interview to promote the town hall. “It’s really going well. I’m having fun.”
Faulkner, 54, said for this upcoming town hall at Fox News headquarters in New York City, she is bringing in experts along with injured police officers and their families. Chicago community activist Andrew Holmes and Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Joe Gamaldi from Houston will be among her guests.
“We plan to have a lot of tough conversations and different perspectives,” she said.
She is perturbed by a growing anti-police attitude in black and Latino communities and the toll the job has taken on officers as suicides surge. (In a sense, this is a Fox News counterpoint to all the Black Lives Matter news coverage in recent years.)
“The police are staked to do so many things now,” Faulkner said, with homelessness, drug abuse and domestic violence turning cops into social workers as much as defenders of law and order.
Faulkner hopes to dig deep, “as much as I can dig deep in an hour,” she said.
Among Fox News diehards, she is more well liked than Shepard Smith, who was the veteran standard-bearer of the news department at Fox News until he quit suddenly earlier this month. Many fans of the evening opinion shows found Smith’s approach to news problematic. (He would sometimes contradict the opinion guys and there had been some on-air tension.)
But Faulkner saw Smith as a mentor and a friend.
“On a personal level, Shep made a difference for me. The first show I ever substitute anchored was his. I loved working with him on breaking news. He was so fluid and so present.”
“Will all the journalism be gone from here without him? No. It takes a team. Shepard was the first to say that,” she added.
Faulkner said the issues between opinion and news is not new. “It’s real but it’s always existed,” she said. “People clash.”
She doesn’t mind playing “schoolmarm” to keep the vitriol down on her own shows. “At the end of the day,” she said, “we can talk about anything but we have to be respectful.”
At worst, she’ll cut to a commercial break to let everyoe calm down. “Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point in society where we don’t mind staying mad at each other for awhile,” she said. “It wasn’t always like that. That is what society is going through.”
She has seen a greater effort to diversify the Fox News newsroom since Roger Ailes left in 2016. She was given the 1 p.m. show after he left, for instance. And the CEO of Fox News is a woman Suzanne Scott. “Some things needed to happen and I’m glad to be a part of it,” she said.
The one thing that hasn’t changed, she noted: Fox News remains No. 1 in cable news, a spot it’s held long before she got there in 2007.
She brought her two pre-teen daughters to see Phil Collins recently in Las Vegas and Fox News fans who came up to her were thrilled to see her. Their dedication runs deep, she said. “They could tell me what I wore on a particular day last week,” she said.
She has no shortage of fans among Fox News viewers I solicited off my Facebook page, a reflection of their respect for her.
“She is an elegant and bright public figure,” said Steve Brown, a former mayor of Peachtree City.
“Wears her faith on her sleeve, I’m always about that,” added Glen Pridgen, a 50-year-old Alpharetta resident.
“She is smart and beautiful and fair and balanced. What’s not to like?” said Barry Leo Brown, 61, of Marietta.
“Town Hall America with Harris Faulkner: Police Emergency”
8 p.m., Sunday, October 27, Fox News
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