On this week’s episode, Harris Faulkner joins to discuss her impressive career, share best practices for how she worked her way to the top, and ways to persevere in hard times. She also gives insight on news of the day like the debate on “back to school” and explains what it’s like to record her show from her husband’s man cave.
Harris Faulkner is a multiple Emmy award-winning newscaster, anchor, and trailblazer in her field. She currently helms two daily daytime programs – Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulkner and serves as the co-host of Outnumbered. Harris has received six Emmy Awards for her successful work in broadcast. She is the author of “9 Rules of Engagement: A Military Brat’s Guide to Life and Success. Outside of her work as a journalist and a writer, Harris is a motivational speaker and philanthropist.
And welcome to She Thinks, a podcasts where you’re allowed to think for yourself. I’m your host, Beverly Hallberg and I am honored to have on Harris Faulkner today. She’s joining us to discuss her impressive career, as well as give us some tips on how she worked her way to the top. But we’re also going to delve into the news, especially when it comes to going back to school. Some hot news topics in here. She’s here to break it all down.
Before we bring her on a little bit more about Harris. Harris Faulkner is a multiple Emmy award winning newscaster, anchor and trailblazer in her field. She currently helms two daily daytime programs, you’ve probably seen them, Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulkner and she serves as the cohost of Outnumbered. Harris has received six Emmy awards for her successful work in broadcast. She is the author of Nine Rules of Engagement: A Military Brat’s Guide to Life and Success. And outside her work as a journalist and a writer, she is a motivational speaker and a philanthropist. I always love chatting with her. Harris, it is a pleasure to have you on She Thinks today.
Oh, it’s so good to be with you, Beverly. You’ve been on the other side of this equation as my guest many times. So it’s an honor to be with you today. Really, really great. Thank you.
You’re welcome. And thank you always for bringing me on your show. I’ve always enjoyed how you’ve hosted the show, the thoughtful questions that you ask. Because of how skilled you are at it, there’s a reason why you interview people like the president and have an impressive career when it comes to interviewing-
Oh, thank you.
… high profile people. And I kind of just want to start us off today with how did you get to where you are? I’m sure that’s a question that you get a lot. We do have a lot of young women who listen to this podcast and I’ve wondered if it goes back to your military background. You have the book that you wrote, A Military Brat’s Guide to Life and Success. Was it that military background, military family that helped you with discipline and grit along the way?
I would say absolutely, yeah. And there were certain facets of that, that really continue every day, sometimes every hour of the day, depending on what’s going on, parenting and working and everything at the same time. Sometimes I really draw upon being so mission-driven, which is how I was raised. And what I would say to women, men, young, even older like myself, ripe, is that it really does take a certain amount of self-discipline. It also takes help.
And we’ve become such an autonomous society of people, we’re especially now hunkered down more than ever. While some areas are reopening, we’re still sticking pretty close to home without a whole lot of places to go to and gather because we’re trying to keep our neighbors safe and ourselves. So within the configuration of that, I think we’re even becoming more isolated than we were before the pandemic. And the challenge of that, or I call it a downside, but it’s certainly a challenge, is that going through life, you’re going to need those people to be what I call, and it’s my first rule of engagement in my book, Nine Rules of Engagement, you’re going to need special forces in your life.
And you don’t need an infantry, you need a small team like Green Berets or Navy Seals, as I like to say, of people who specialize in different categories in your life. I have spiritual prayer partners in my life. I’ve got the one girlfriend who no matter how… Oh my gosh, Beverly, it can be raining shoes on my head that I don’t want to wear, and my girlfriend will pick me up on a day, shore me up and remind me that my gifts make room for me. She will lift me up and that. So she’s one of my special forces. My dad is because by nature, he’s mission-oriented, former combat pilot, Lieutenant Colonel, two tours in Vietnam. And so all of that comes into play to getting where you want to be.
And then the resilience that we have as military families. Not knowing if our loved ones are returning for battle and keeping the homeland and homestead ready for that returning mom or dad who’s serving, and always cherishing whatever time you get, and I think that’s particularly important as a journalist. I don’t like to waste anybody’s time because I know that it’s finite.
And so, as I have sat now more than once before the Commander in Chief, my initial thought as I sit down with a high-profile interviewee or guest is, I’ve got a bit of their time. They’re respecting me by giving it to me, and now let me respect the situation, that individual, the viewers who are watching and myself by listening and asking important questions based on that current conversation. So that’s how I operate, and it’s very much based on how I was raised as a military dependent.
And I think something you mentioned there that’s so helpful is talking about the support of people in our life. We don’t need a whole army per se, but we need those people who are consistent, who are going to be there. And when we look at the tragedy of higher increases in suicide, depression, opioid addiction, it’s all related or typically related to loneliness, people feeling alone. And so even within a very busy career, how have you maintained those relationships? How often do you keep in touch with people when your time is really limited?
Well, I would say this, if you don’t have the right people around you, you can be lonely in a crowd. It’s not the number of people around you, it is the people that you’ve chosen to have in your midst. And one of the things I write about in Nine Rules of Engagement and talk about all the time when I speak and particularly seek out young women to tell this to, is that the number of followers you have does not make you better than anybody else. I mean, people can have a million followers on Twitter, Jesus only had 12, and he accomplished a lot. And I’m not looking for disciples because it’s not my job to proselytize, I have a different gift on my life and I leave that to the lane of people who were put here for that, but I respect that notion that it really matters.
And so during a pandemic, it’s not that people can’t reach out and that they can’t reach be reached out to, but specifically when you’re alone like many people have been and now they’re starting to reconnect and some of them are having to be pushed back because the numbers are spiking, so on and so forth, you know the news, who you connect with really counts. So connect with those people who make you feel like you can do anything. Connect with those people who remind you that life is filled with multiple chances, but that you’ve got to make each opportunity count. It really matters. And I’m not seeking fans or friends on Twitter or whatever. It’s great to be able to commune that way. Many of us find out information about each other on social media, and that’s fine if you want to connect that way, but the baseline has to be connecting at the heart.
And I don’t think we do enough talking to each other. I think we’ve so gotten into texting and, “Girl, I’m going to hit you up on text.” Every now and then, I do need to FaceTime. That was before the pandemic. I need to see you and as much as we can, eyeball each other. I still prefer a socially distanced coffee. I reached out to a girlfriend recently for that. I’m like, “You bring yours, I’ll bring mine, I’ll sit by the left tree, you sit by the right tree, but girl, I need to see you, and I’ll put on extra perfume so you can smell me, so you know I’m really there.”
Yeah. With the pandemic, there have been silver linings. I know I’ve spent a lot more time-
That’s so true.
… with my family than I ever had before. I’m assuming it’s similar for you. You’re not traveling as much as you were before. And so, it does provide this opportunity for people to communicate, to connect, and I think to this other part, which is encouraged people during these really hard times. And so even though we see you, and you’re like, you’re hosting these two shows, “She’s got it made, everything’s great,” everybody goes through a hard time in their life.
How have you continued to persevere, pick yourself up when you got knocked down? What tips do you give for people on perseverance, especially during a pandemic when so many people feel like there’s not an end in sight?
I don’t proselytize as I mentioned, but I lean heavily on my faith. And I do believe that when I pray, because I have gotten a little bit older, Beverly, that the prayer skill that I’ve picked up in recent years is listening. My mother used to tell me, “You spend a lot of time telling God what to do, when are you ever going to hear back?” And when I lost her three years ago, it wasn’t just me, it was my whole family, but I was so close to her that when we lived in Germany, my dad was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, I was actually in her arms on her passport picture. I was the first born and she took me everywhere.
And so, we had a special connection. And the only way that I can reach her now is through prayer, and I do that. And I challenge anybody to in their lives, find a spot every day in their house, in their apartment, in their yard, wherever it is that you connect with and just sit quietly and listen. Listen, take it all in. I’m not saying that everybody has to be religious or find a lane that is specific to any of that, but I don’t know how we can be kind to each other, if we aren’t allowing ourselves to be loved in a divine way. I don’t know how we can create goodness around us, if we don’t feel like we deserve to be part of the goodness that’s there. And in order to absorb that, you’ve got to soak it in quietly.
And I find like you said, I loved what you said, Beverly. I wrote it down, the silver linings in this time, they’re all around us, but we have to choose them, and then we have to shed them. Shed them like you shed your gray. You shed the love of those silver linings.
And I like what you talked about. I’m a Christian as well. And so my faith has definitely helped me during this time because there’s a bigger picture. There’s purpose, but I think regardless of someone’s faith, people need that purpose in their life, the purpose of their importance to others, they have something to give back. And I think people have been able to maybe grab a little bit more of that because they realize how much their close relationships are meaningful to other people. So I completely agree with you on the importance of listening and figuring out purpose in one’s life.
I want to turn our conversation a little bit to the news, because one of the things I think as people are going through in this pandemic, they’re really struggling with are parents out there who still don’t know what’s going to happen when it comes to their child’s education. Is school happening? So that’s been a big topic of conversation this week, especially since the president has been encouraging schools to open again. You have people pushing back saying that that means the president wants to kill people if he wants students to go back to school. But of course, these days that’s the narrative or that’s the questioning or the comment a lot on any decision that’s made, very over the top.
But this is a heated topic. You’re a mother, what has been your own perspective? What do you think about the balance that certain states, cities need to have, also taking into account that every area is a bit different? Not everybody has the same COVID numbers, the same density and therefore the same concerns.
Yeah. Those are all very good points. And having recently traveled to Dallas, Texas, as it was becoming the state of Texas, a hotspot to interview the president, I was very much made clear that in his space, there were certain protocols you had to take, but I masked up anyway, and I got some cute little face gear, and all of it is at least three layers thick. And that was the first time I had traveled in a very long time. And so, everything is kind of in the forefront.
When I came home, it was an excellent time to talk with my children because, my 13-year-old, I have two daughters. One is 13, one’s 11. And my older daughter, Bella says to me, “So mom, what was it like to be around people for the first time in so long? We’ve been in lockdown in New Jersey.” And I said, “Well, it reminds me that every place is so different.” I mean, Texas is wide open. There’s spaces in Texas you can go and watch your dog run away from home. And it’s flat and beautiful in certain areas and hot and hilly and others. And my dad lives in Dallas. I have 11 cousins in the Dallas Metro. I unfortunately didn’t get to visit with anybody on that very quick, 18 hour trip, but it was a good eyeopener for me.
So, as we have seen states, I think there are 36 states as of this current week that are seeing some sort of increase in either percentages of cases or positivity rates and or both. And so, as we look at that, we also then would have states that don’t have that and we would have areas within those States that don’t have that. And I look at my children and I said to them, “I wonder what it will be like to go back to school this fall, because I kind of got hope.” There are places that are dealing with this differently than New Jersey, because even with a spike, that’s not the same as having… I mean, on the East coast, Beverly, it was crazy at one point. There were more people dying in the state of New York and particularly New York City than there were in the cases that are spiking in some counties around the country. I mean, it was unbelievable. But it was different because of the eight million people that live in one area, those five boroughs.
So, I said to my daughters, “We’re going to find a way to do this.” And this was a couple of weeks ago. And then most recently, to hear the president talking about reopening schools, it’s interesting because it’s got the schools in the different areas now talking about how they would do it and surveys are going out in New Jersey. And my husband and I filled out a survey the other day and were like, “Oh, look at all these different… Would you want a hybrid? What can you do to suggest distancing? You’ve been to the school, here’s the schematic of the school.” I mean, they wanted input from people and then they’re going to look at all these surveys and it quickly got back to us. So these educators are working on this now.
The one thing in the interviews that I did in the last week, I asked, “Well, what did you think about how it was put out there, the president saying that he might cut funding, so on and so forth?” And people say, “Well, can he really do that?” I look at the law, there’s some certain grants and things that he can cut, but then vice president Pence said, “He just wanted to make the point that he’s serious about this,” and he does tend to talk in superlatives like that. But he’s got everybody working on it and thinking about it, and I can’t think of a more important project for educators, for governors and mayors and county commissioners and parents. I can’t think of a more important journey to be on together. We got to figure this out for our kids.
Now, Dr. Birx on the task force has said the percentage of fatalities for pediatrics under the age of 25, those patients, those pediatric patients is very low, less than 1%. However, they haven’t been able to test many people under the age of 10. It just doesn’t happen. So Dr. Birx admitted, she said, “We would have to gather data for quite some time to be able to really know what’s going to happen once we get all these kids together. But we know that death is probably not a high enough rate that it’s a reason not to try. We are going to have to test some kids. We are going to have to test teachers.” So what they’re talking about all these things, and I’m covering it, I think it is the pandemic driven focus of the moment and it will be until the school doors open.
Now, a lot of our teachers are in those tender ages where they may be hurt most by COVID-19. Some of them may have to digitally teach their particular programs. I’m thinking of a whole lot of ways to do this, Beverly. I’m sure you can think of some too.
And one of the things I think that we’ll talk about silver linings once again, it’s actually inserting innovation into K-12 when that’s pretty much been closed as far as new ways of thinking for a very long time. I also have wondered with children being at home learning, if it’s also putting the focus back on parents needing to be involved. So even you getting a survey, they wanted to know what you as a parent… I think sometimes the school takes over the role of trying to be parent.
And so, I’m wondering if it’s going to correct of maybe what I would consider errors or wrong directions that K-12 has gone and almost reconfiguring it because of the pandemic in a way that’s going to make the most sense for children and for their parents. I think it could even open up and is opening up a lot of homeschool options. Homeschooling is becoming more, not just feasible, but something that is seen as more realistic.
I definitely understand the thirst for wanting to control your child’s environment, and that has been something that is a bonus. The gossip that my new teenager at 13 has unfortunately… Well, we all go through it. So when she hit seventh grade, she’s coming home and, “Mom, so-and-so said this about me the girls are just…” And so to be able to control that environment more and to cut down on what I call the emotional pollution of junior high, that has been an additive in this process of digital learning mode.
I wouldn’t compare it to homeschooling. I’m not as gifted as the parents who homeschool. I’m just going to be straight up with it. I mean, that is a special lane of preparation, and I have so much respect. I had to come up to speed on curriculum and all of that. And I think if we did it again, I’d be more ready for it. And it might feel a little bit more like a homeschool situation, but mine was just trying to, okay, well how do we get this in Google docs? And I’m pretty okay with digital, but theirs is a whole new level. I mean, I’ve got a state honor roll level 13 year old in the state of New Jersey recognize at that level for her academic competitiveness. And so when she does a science project in our house, I’m kind of missing the classroom, because I’m like, “Is that going to blow up? How’s that going to work?” So I’m not exactly homeschooling, sometimes I’m scared. But no, I’m being a bit facetious.
So, here’s what I would say though, if there is a way in all of that we’re going through for… And I was surprised to see how heavily involved the Trump administration saw the Department of Education, because I think politically that hasn’t always been the way it’s been laid out, but they’re leaning heavily on the education secretary, Betsy DeVos and some of the budgeting items there to get schools reopened. That will require that the materials in schools also be equal, because there are some parents who found when we were forced into DLM, digital learning mode as they call it, some of the schools didn’t provide all the tablets for that, some of the kids in poor neighborhoods and poor school districts across the country, we saw a lot of that in pockets in New York across the river from me, they didn’t have the resources for all of that.
And so as we look at the government now getting more involved in initiating the process of reopening, does that mean that the Department of Education from a top-down process gets more involved, and will there be more dollars to flow to make sure that things are equal for kids once they get back in the classroom? I think those are all fair questions. I also think that school choice is another conversation that comes back on the table. Charters, however you see that, I agree with you, Beverly. I think this is an opportunity to relook at everything and do it though in a way where the experts are doing it. These parents want to go back to work. So we got to figure something out too. Some of these kids can’t…
I mean, I might leave my 11-year-old at home, probably not. So my husband’s office is where I broadcast from every day, the man cave. So one of us has been home throughout the pandemic, but eventually I’m going to go back to the city to go to work. He’ll still be close to home, but those are all things we have to figure out. And I’m optimistic. Am I too Pollyannaish about this? But I am optimistic that we can do to this.
Well, I think one of the reasons to be optimistic is it sounds like people are having a conversation, which is what is always needed. Let’s figure it out. I think like you said, the fact that you were asked as parents, I think is great. I want to round out our conversation though, by going to the man cave. So that was a perfect segue, so thank you. So speaking of being digital, you talk about the digital aspect of schooling for your daughters. What has it been like for you to host two shows from your husband’s man cave?
Well, when I first started, it was just trying to stay on the air. We had so many people all spread out. We even had one producer per control room at Fox News, and it’s usually about 25 people in that space. And you can’t work from home as a technician and as a producer. So we had to put up plastic partitions and then put people… This was very early on. We were already at Fox gaming some of this out. And then it’ll be 16 weeks this Friday that I have been working from home.
So, in the beginning it was just technically, how do we do this? I was spatially distanced from a photographer who came into our home or comes into our home. He’s wearing a mask and gloves. I’m wearing a mask until I go on the air. As soon as I go up live, he steps out and we’re even more than six feet apart. He leaves and we close the door and I’m down in the man cave. And so after a couple of weeks, I looked around the man cave, and I said, “This is really manly. Let me put up a flower. Let me start to change this.” And my husband walked down here one afternoon and, “Harris, what have you done? It looks like Estee Lauder got loose in here, it even smells different.” I’m like-
So, it’s not the man cave anymore.
I was going for a full-blown… No, I was going for a full-blown Fashion Week, girl. The only thing was missing down here was the runway. I mean, I had some wardrobe in the corner and the photographer every day, poor Pete, “Oh Lord, here we go again. What’s it going to be when I open door number three?” But it’s been fun. And you know what I love about it? My girls can come down and they can watch me broadcast. And every now and then during breaking news, they’ll help me. I’ll be putting stuff up on the printer and they’ll collate it and bring it over and highlight the specific things for me.
I feel really, really blessed. And I’m so grateful to the people who are essential workers, who are on the frontline still in medical facilities and those grocers who do what they do, those farmers to make sure that we have everything we need on our tables. Wow, what big hearts and hard workers they all are, and I’m so grateful. I really am.
Well, I’m always grateful for your coverage. I think you’re wonderful as a host in asking people questions. And before we go, I want you to tell us a little bit about a special that you have coming up, I believe on July 19th. Yes.
Yes. Sunday 10:00 PM Eastern and people are watching television a little bit differently these days. On a Sunday evening, they want something that they can really lean in on. They want new and fresh perspective and something contemplated. And so Harris Faulkner Presents: a Fight for America. And we are going to look at all of the issues that are hot, hot, hot right now. Those that divide us and those that will be bringing us together so we rise. I truly believe that through incredible struggle is when America finds its way to a new height. That’s always been our history. And so I think we’re going to write a new chapter like that.
So, we’ll have all voices, more voices, not fewer. There will be some heated conversations, you bet. And I don’t want to give too much away here, but we’ll have some voices at the table that you’ll be like, “Wow, okay. Well, I didn’t see that coming.” And we’ll get into Black Lives Matter. We’ll get into why it is that the protesters say they want one thing, and then you cut $1 billion from the NYPD budget and the protesters get more outside of New York, they like grow. So more of them saying, that’s not enough.
Defund the police is going to be huge. And after coming off several weekends of violence in our major cities, I want to talk about black on black crime. That parent and that grandfather last week, Secoriea Turner, the little eight year old girl who was killed outside the Wendy’s in Atlanta, her mom was trying to drive around a barrier that the protesters had set up and somebody shot at the car and that child was killed, and her grandfather said, “If black lives matter, what about Secoriea?” And the mayor said, “We’re killing each other here.” Fascinating conversation to get into, and then we’ll talk about the economics of rising.
Some things are about not white, black, brown. Some things are about green. And when we can find that sweet spot of economically rising together, wow, what a country we’ll be. And I’m hopeful. You’ll get some of that, but you’ll get some tough discussion too. So Harris Faulkner Presents: A Fight for America, because if we’re going to fight, let’s fight for something.
And that is on Fox News on July 19th. Thank you so much for not just sharing your story and what you’ve gone through to get to where you are, but also your perspective on education and what a day in the life of Harris Faulkner is like these days during the time of the pandemic, and rounding it out with a little hope. I think we could all use that now. So Harris, thank you so much for joining us.
Beverly, thank you. Bless you. You rock.
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