Fox News Host Talks About Midterm Elections, Channel's Ebola Coverage (Q&A)
Sandra Smith also explains how FNC's "Outnumbered" is different from "The View."
Sandra Smith was a trader in Chicago when she was asked to provide television commentary for First Business News. That led to a gig with Bloomberg TV then Fox Business Network, where she's on Opening Bell With Maria Bartiromo. Nowadays, insiders call her "a rising star," given she's the only female starring on weekday shows both on Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel, where she is an anchor on Outnumbered, a Fox News show where four women and one man talk about the headlines. Smith also will handle election analysis for FBN on Tuesday. She spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the election, politics and other news.
Do you have a prediction for Tuesday's election?
I'm not in the business of predicting. I'm in the business of talking to all the smart people out there who make predictions. I can certainly tell you, from what I've heard, there's likely to be a Republican win on Tuesday.
What's your personal politics?
I don't include personal politics in my journalism.
But Outnumbered is an opinion show.
Harris Faulkner and I are the everyday hosts of the show. We are the journalists. We carry the breaking news for the show, then I play more of a moderator role. My job is to bring out the best in everybody that is sitting on that couch. Even if my personal belief is in line with the discussion, you'll see me play devil's advocate just to make sure the other side is represented.
Democrats seem excited about nominating Hillary Clinton for president in part due to her gender. Do you think it's important that the U.S. elect a female president?
It's important to have the best person for the job, and if that person is a female, that's great. But I don't believe in nominating someone for president based on their gender.
Why are audiences so politically polarized nowadays?
You can certainly look at the administration. There's been a lot of criticism for its lack of leadership. As far as I can tell, this is one of the more divisive times in history, and both sides of the aisle have admitted that. It's a time of great turmoil.
I've seen the same stories on Fox News and on MSNBC but framed entirely different. Who's lying to me?
MSNBC, you'll probably notice, has a bit more opinion in their programming. Fox News, during the daytime, identifies that their programming is news-based programming whereas in the evening we have more opinion-based shows, which are labeled as such. When I watch Fox, I see both sides represented.
What's the most overhyped story recently?
There's a lot of talk about Ebola being overblown. Is that my opinion? No. I've seen it hyped on other networks, but on Fox we report when there's something new. People want to know when there's news breaking, but to sit around and just opine — that's overhyping.
More people will probably die of the flu in the U.S. than Ebola. So if Fox isn't hyping Ebola, has it run as many stories about the flu?
We have doctors on Fox who have told us on many occasions that they believe the flu is a bigger concern because it affects more people and there are more deaths. Paul, I'm not really sure if you're watching our network.
Well, not 24-7. But you can honestly say you talk about the flu more than Ebola?
You're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say that. I just said Ebola is not overhyped on Fox.
On the flip side, what's a story that's not getting enough attention?
The expected voter turnout for the midterm elections, especially the youth vote. It's expected to be one of the lowest levels in history at a time when the youth in America should be more concerned about this election than anybody else. They're coming out of college and not finding jobs after graduating with an average of $30,000 in student debt. This is a critical time for that millennial generation and they should be a part of the midterm election.
Your colleague, Kimberly Guilfoyle, got beat up for suggesting young women who weren't informed shouldn't vote.
Kimberly's words were taken completely out of context. Kimberly regularly dedicates a generous amount of her time to women's causes including recently speaking to a group of young girls about the importance of their civic duty. Kimberly, along with all of my Opening Bell and Outnumbered co-hosts, takes the right to vote very seriously.
Democrats in the media keep talking about a Republican war on women.
That argument is starting to be really old. Democrats don't feel that they're making much ground with it.
But was it ever real?
I don't think it was ever real. It was a tactic.
You had a baby girl 17 months ago. Is it difficult raising a child as a TV anchor?
It's got its challenges but I think at the end of the day it makes me a better journalist, a better person. And I'm expecting my second child in early January.
A boy or girl?
We found out the first time, but not this time. Everybody says it's so much better to wait, so we're going to wait.
Is it true you had no journalism experience the first time you appeared on TV?
My experience was in business. I went on to comment on the markets from the trading floors in Chicago and I made the smooth transition into journalism at Bloomberg, where I learned the very formal approach, where everything that we said had to be quantified.
Who noticed you at Fox?
I can't say with certainty, but Roger Ailes was the first person I met with when I came to Fox in October 2007. He hired me personally.
What do you think of him?
Roger's a genius. He's a wonderful boss and his vision is fathomable, it's proven.
Give me an anecdote proving what you say.
He's a hands-on boss in a world where a lot people don't get to physically meet with their boss. He'll call me up to his office to have a chat about what's going on in the world, whether it's politics or business or everyday life. Roger Ailes has been an invaluable experience.
What do you tell the Fox News detractors — the people who call it "Faux news"?
They're very vocal about it, if you haven't noticed, so I say, ‘You must watch a lot of Fox News to hate it that much.' I tell them we are No. 1 in ratings for a reason — we show both sides of the story. We certainly brought an alternative to what was on before.
Isn't Outnumbered just another version of The View?
I don't think you have journalists on The View. Who's on there now? Whoopi Goldberg? They're actresses. It's fine if they want to share their opinions, but if you watch Outnumbered you'll be informed and entertained. It's very smart people who gather on that couch every day.
Maria Bartiromo is "The Money Honey." Don't you need a nickname name, too?
Finance is certainly a male-dominated industry. It gave me a lot of my toughness, and it gave me the ability to field a lot of questions from guys like you. It has given me a lot of perspective. I certainly look at the world in a different light with my business background. Do I want a nickname like "The Money Honey"? That has not been something that I have aspired to. I think Maria definitely owns that name.
CNBC had huge ratings during the Internet bubble. Do the business channels need another bubble to attract viewers?
More people watch business television when times are good, but there's nothing good about a bubble because they eventually burst. What we all want to see is a healthy stock market.
Is there a stock bubble now?
Look, we have unprecedented involvement from the Federal Reserve. It's very difficult to look at a company like ExxonMobil or Apple and buy and sell those stocks on the fundamentals. We're looking at a market that's much different than any other time in history.
How about entertainment stocks, like 21st Century Fox?
That is obviously the parent company of our network. It's a time of a lot of change for these companies — lots of mergers and consolidation.