Yes, Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer will be on hand to guide the Fox News audience through the vote tallies, as will Arnon Mishkin, who leads the network’s Decision Desk. But Harris Faulkner will also take part in the coverage, and in a decidedly non-traditional way.
Most TV networks hope to inform voters about how their ballots affected the course of an election session. Fox News will do more with them. Faulkner will be stationed with as many as 25 to 30 voters from various walks of life and will be ready to quiz them on their reactions as the night proceeds. The “Voters’ Voices” group will be waiting in the studio that normally houses Greg Gutfeld’s late-night show, and Faulkner believes that her assemblage will add a new dimension to the evening.
“It’s in-person live voter input,” she says. “You can’t script it, and you wouldn’t want to.”
TV-news outlets often try to dazzle viewers on Election Night by trotting out new technology that helps viewers visualize reams of data and information. Fox News does some of that as well. But Faulkner’s November 8 roost is a testament to the Fox Corp. outlet’s relentless focus on the people who may tune in.
Faulkner says her group will include people from across the demographic spectrum – Republicans, Democrats and independent voters. Some will be parents. Others will be single. According to data synthesized from Nielsen, MRI and Simmons, Fox News reaches the largest share of independent-minded viewers between the ages of 25 and 54during the week, with 51% tuning into Fox News, 32% into MSNBC and 17% into CNN. Faulkner intends to press them to learn “what tipped you” to vote for one candidate or the other.
“Independent doesn’t mean undecided,” she says of the group. “We will get into that, too.” She expects to have at least one segment an hour during coverage and believes it will last several minutes each time.
Fox News often comes under scrutiny for the opinions of its regular primetime hosts, but its election coverage is often under the microscope as well. Baier and MacCallum try to run a no-nonsense affair ,In 2020, Fox News made headlines when Mishkin’s Decision Desk called Arizona for Joe Biden over Trump earlier than other news outlets – a call that ended up being correct, though actual, thorough results were not counted for a few days after election proceedings.
Faulkner’s segments could be more freewheeling than the reports her colleagues will deliver this evening. She will be working with Lee Carterof Maslansky + Partners, a strategic consultancy that helps companies communicate and position themselves. “This is a very intimate sort of conversation,” says Faulkner. “I Don’t mind if they cut in on each other. This is not a town hall.”
By enlisting Faulkner on Election Night, Fox News is injecting some of the dynamics of its daytime programing into its evening report. In addition to her 11 a.m. hour, the anchor also co-hosts “Outnumbered,” a panel show with four women and one male guest. Her shows have seen their viewership increase between this year and last, according to Nielsen.
Her segments aren’t an experiment. Faulkner did “Voters Voices” last year for Fox News’ digital coverage, This year, network executives feel the idea is ready for primetime. “We were down on the Hudson River,” she recalls, and the network “built a glass box” as a set for the discussions. “But it’s not the same as having people in the studio.”