Walking down the hall of Fox News channel world headquarters, I pass the offices of Democratic strategist turned Fox News commentator on The Five, Bob Beckel, and the host of America Live, Megyn Kelly. As I reach the office of the anchor for Fox Report Weekend, Harris Faulkner, she gives me a big smile and “hello” and motions me into her office.
There are three things that stand out in Harris’s office: photos of her family (two young daughters, Bella and Danika, and husband, Tony Berlin), six Emmys perched above her book shelf, and a clothes rack holding at least 20 dresses in various styles and colors.
Having the right clothes may be important for on-screen reporting, but Harris emphasizes that news reporting should reflect solid writing that tells a story. As she says, “Storytelling is essential.” She got a real appreciation for quality storytelling when several years ago she saw Shepard Smith, host of Fox Report, eporting from New Orleans: “I remember thinking,” recalls Harris, “Shepard tells a story like no one I have ever seen.” (Harris with Gabby Douglas, above.)
But Harris’s interest in reporting and telling the story started long before her introduction to Smith. Graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in business economics and mass communications, Harris discovered that she loved to write. She got her first job working as a freelance business writer making $50/article for L.A. Weekly. Through networking, Harris got a job with a cable access station where she had the opportunity to see the news first hand thanks to the news director who encouraged her to go out with the reporters covering the story. Harris says, “This experience made me a better story teller because for anyone telling a story, they first need to see a picture.” Harris landed a series of jobs with local stations, including the Fox affiliate in Kansas City. But, she got her big break in Minneapolis, a city she speaks of with great affection.
It was in Minneapolis that she received her first Emmy for “Best Local Anchor” and where she met her future husband, Tony Berlin. Harris in describing her time in Minneapolis laughs and says, “ I got an Emmy the same time I got a Tony.” As testament to her love for Minnesota and the state’s beauty, Harris has in her office a Minnesota license plate, whose slogan is “Home of 10,000 Lakes.” It was also in Minneapolis where Harris received a “National Headliner Award” for anchoring the station’s coverage of the plane crash that killed then Minnesota senator, Paul Wellstone.
Next, Harris joined 20th Century Fox’s syndicated national news magazine, A Current Affair, as a correspondent and substitute host. Her reporting caught the attention of Fox Chairman Roger Ailes and led to an interview with him in New York. As Ailes told Harris in his no-nonsense way, “I like your work.”
Harris and her husband moved to the New York area eight years ago. Because Harris is a weekend anchor she has, as she describes it, an “unconventional weekend.” Mondays and Tuesdays are her days with her family. She’s usually in the Fox Studios by noon on Saturday and Sunday where she typically wraps up around 10:30 p.m. Her mornings begin with an editorial call, mapping out the major stories of the day. The day we spoke there were a number of fast-moving news stories, including a missing New York mom who’d been on vacation in Turkey and an American pastor who was being held in an Iranian prison.
Television viewership and ratings are certainly important to the bottom line. I ask Harris how she feels about Fox’s reputation for being “right-leaning” — or others may say biased — in its viewpoint and commentary. She responds that “viewers need to appreciate the difference between our editorial operation and our news operation. The latter tells it like it is – fair and balanced.”
And, speaking of balanced, Harris is much more than just a news anchorwoman. She works for a number of charitable causes. As the daughter of an aerospace engineer who served as an Army aviator in Vietnam, Harris is involved with our military families, and is active in the Vietnam Veterans Association. Harris’s mother was a social worker and spent time with foster families. Today, Harris champions the work of Foster Care Services.
Several years ago, Harris’s Fox colleague, Jennifer Griffin, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Triple negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer where the three most common types of receptors known to fuel breast cancer growth – estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene – are not present in the cancer tumor, making its treatment somewhat different from other types of breast cancer. Jennifer is doing well today but Harris continues to support breast cancer research and awareness. When speaking of Jennifer and the way the entire Fox team rallied around her, Harris says, “When you have support at work, it impacts your ability to accomplish things.”
Here is someone who seems to have a great perspective on the oft-used phrase: “work/life balance.” Harris points to her strong church upbringing for her healthy perspective on life and says, “The first and last thing I do every day is pray.” And still active in church, she is instilling that sense of religiosity in her children. Her older daughter has an interest in gospel music and was active in the recent book drive at their church. As she tells the story about her daughter, Harris says, “ I’m sowing that seed with her.”
In honor of Black History Month the Ailes Apprentice Program is sponsoring a special series hosted by Harris Faulkner that celebrates exceptional African Americans. In the series Harris interviews Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, Gail Harris, once the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Navy, Guion Bluford (photo, above), the first African American in space and Don Peebles, real estate mogul.
To hear Harris’s interview with Gabby click on this link.
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: Catch; Jazz Room at the Blue Water Grill
Favorite Place to Shop: ABC Home and the boutiques on the Upper West Side
Favorite New York Sight: The Empire State Building; I loved the building’s role on Valentine’s Day in the movie, Sleepless in Seattle.
Favorite New York Moment: Celebrating my 40th birthday at the Rainbow Room.
What You Love About New York: It’s different every day.
What You Hate About New York: Smell of the subway in the summertime