‘Outnumbered’ Host Harris Faulkner Embraces the Fox News Show’s Evolution: ‘I Don’t Think ‘The View’ Would Do That’

Ten years since the launch of the panel-style talk show, the anchor’s role has expanded to become a centerpiece of Fox daytime

Fox News (Emily Compagno, Harris Faulkner, and Kayleigh McEnany)
Fox News (Emily Compagno, Harris Faulkner, and Kayleigh McEnany)

Harris Faulkner feels tasked to “model for the nation what it looks like to be civil in a disagreement” with “Outnumbered” which the Fox News anchor says makes a conscious effort to spark debate among its panelists. 

“Those things are in our DNA,” at Fox News, Faulkner told TheWrap. “But what I love is that we find a way to debate without hate, and that is quintessential ‘Outnumbered.’”

It’s been 10 years of Fox News’ daytime panel talk show, “Outnumbered,” and Faulkner, the last remaining original anchor, has transitioned into a centerpiece of the network’s daytime programming. 

“Harris came here with a lot of experience but I think she really blossomed here at Fox,” Fox News President Jay Wallace told TheWrap in an interview. “She’s a dynamic talent for us.”

Faulkner starts her day with a packed schedule. She begins upstairs in a smaller studio, to anchor her solo hour of “The Faulkner Focus,” which she says is built to “front load” the network’s straight news content, to prepare for more in-depth discussion. Once the cameras stop rolling, Faulkner hurries downstairs to the “Outnumbered” couch for a quick touchup before going live again at 12 pm ET. 

Harris Faulkner on Outnumbered
Fox News

Initially, Faulkner helmed a show alone, which was slated for after “Outnumbered.” But strategically, it made more sense for “The Faulkner Focus” to come first, which now airs at 11 am ET on weekdays, Wallace said, to “tackle some of these harder issues.”

“It gives ‘Outnumbered’ a chance to sit back and cover these things in a different way, after she’s done it with a news lens,” Wallace added.  “They can chew it over more conversationally or with a little bit of opinion depending on who’s on the couch.”

The original concept of “Outnumbered”, developed by now-Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott with the help of Wallace, leaned into the name with a gender-bent philosophy, including four female panelists and “One Lucky Guy,” who would discuss topical issues, focusing on gender distinctions. While the gender makeup of the panel still stands, the topics have been largely nixed, in favor of panelists who can discuss a range of subjects, both political and cultural. 

“In the beginning, the whole point of new of the show was that you got to mix in gender topics, so everybody gets the ‘Outnumbered’ of it all,” Faulkner told TheWrap. “Over time, what has changed is that ‘Outnumbered’ means that your point of view is outnumbered.”

“It became so much less about men and women, and so much more about being American,” Faulkner added. 

Both Faulkner and Wallace credit some of the success of the show over the last 10 years to the evolution of the program into a format that can accommodate both fiery cultural debates and straight breaking news, given that the show falls around the time of day that political news often breaks.  

“Over time, it has evolved into a more nimble and robust hybrid show, which has the ability to tackle lots of cultural issues,” Wallace said, adding that “the pairings of the group are easily able to jump into breaking news mode.”

Wallace continued that the show has adapted from something that “probably was thought as more of a daytime quasi-news show,” to a “high-powered, hybrid show that can do either, depending on the day.”

“Outnumbered,” however, still happily takes risks that they know push the envelope, and even their own expertise. The panel often discusses cultural issues in an unfiltered way, with Faulkner telling TheWrap that they don’t shy away from divisive topics, “that we know are going to be dicey.”

“We jump in on abortion, we jump in on things that might even be outside our lane,” Faulkner said, adding “When I talk about cultural issues, if I’m wrong, I have to clarify and correct that immediately, as fast as possible.”

Even so, it’s a “wildcard” with guests according to the Fox News anchor, “Because sometimes you’ll bring people on and they are not careful with their words because they don’t know enough.”

“So to me, to be careful with your words is to make sure everybody understands you,” Faulkner said. 

Outnumbered Co-hosts: Emily Compagno, Harris Faulkner, and Kayleigh McEnany
Fox News (Emily Compagno, Harris Faulkner, and Kayleigh McEnany)

Faulkner, who has been on “Outnumbered” since its launch 10 years ago, is the only remaining original panelist. She is regularly joined by co-hosts Emily Compagno and Kayleigh McEnany, who joined in 2021.

Faulkner is also the only Black woman to helm back-to-back programs on cable news. She has moderated the network’s town halls, participated in election coverage, and launched her own initiative “Voter’s Voices.” Faulkner is also a New York Times Best-Selling Author with her book “Faith Still Moves Mountains.” The now-Fox News mainstay started her career as a local news anchor for KSTP-TV (ABC 5) in Minneapolis, also hosting “The Harris Faulkner Show” on FM107 radio.

“Outnumbered” has cycled through co-hosts over the years, including Sandra Smith, who is still with the network, Melissa Francis who was unceremoniously fired by Fox in 2020, and Meghan McCain, who left and opted to join “The View,” instead. 

Faulkner said that what differentiates “Outnumbered” is their range and ability to cover breaking news. 

“We discuss cultural topics, politics, whatever, and then toggle and give you statistics on school shootings and what we’re looking at right now on screen,” Faulkner added. 

“I don’t think ‘The View’ would do that,” she quipped about her competition, adding that the ABC program gives her “a little agita these days, all fighting amongst themselves.”

“People don’t have to turn away from us to find out what’s actually happening,” the Fox anchor said. “That is a superpower and that’s why we’re successful.”

The ratings, however, tell a bit of a different story. 

ABC’s “The View” is easily “Outnumbered’s” biggest competition and the most similar show. Fox News is stuck playing catch-up, even though “Outnumbered” is not in the same time slot. In the first quarter of 2021, “The View” topped talk show ratings with 2.43 million average total viewers and 331,0000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic. Whereas, “Outnumbered” came in second, averaging 1.73 million viewers with 205,000 in the 25-54 age range. 

Despite the ongoing battle with “The View,” Fox News tends to dominate cable news daytime programming ratings, with both “The Faulkner Focus” and “Outnumbered,” ranking number one in their respective time slots. While a much more culturally driven show than cable competition in the time slot, the ratings demonstrate that Fox News viewers appreciate the commentary, though it can often veer controversial. 

This year to date, “Outnumbered,” has seen 1.71 million average total viewers, a 64% increase from the show’s launch year, 2014, which sat at 1.04 million average viewers, according to Nielsen figures. In the 25-54 demographic, “Outnumbered” has seen 204,000 average viewers this year so far, compared to 201,000 in 2014. Side-by-side with the more politically-forward cable news shows this year, Fox has dominated, with CNN’s “Inside Politics” averaging 649,000 total viewers and 103,000 in the 25-54 demographic, and MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” averaging 771,000 total viewers with 78,000 in the 25-54 age range. 

Much of Fox News’ programming revolves around panel-style talk show formatting including “Fox & Friends,” and “The Five,” which have been uniquely successful for the network. 

“I feel like a lot of people think they’re easy to produce but they’re not,” Wallace said. “A lot of it has to do with chemistry.” He considers the format as an effort to “talk to the audience, not down to it,” which he says the network prides itself on.

As Fox News gears up for the 2024 election, Wallace said that so far “It’s been about pacing ourselves.”

“It’s an atypical election,” the Fox News President continued. “We’ve never really had a rematch like this before. It was finished before it really even began.”

“Once we get to the conventions, then you’ll start getting back to a more traditional presidential race,” Wallace told TheWrap. 

While Faulkner said that while she loves participating in election season coverage, she hopes that “at the end of the day, everybody remembers that if we didn’t serve the voters on that day, we didn’t do our job.”

Then, in true Fox News fashion, she said, “Where we are right now, though, is one man going after a political opponent with the justice system,” parroting a Trump-camp talking point that President Joe Biden is weaponizing the DOJ against former president Donald Trump in an effort hurt his campaign. 

“As long as they’re fighting for the country, bring it on,” Faulkner added, without any hesitation. 

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