Politics 12 April 2019
Ahead of the 2020 elections, Harris Faulkner is using her role as a journalist to address some of the recent and recurring topics polarizing the Democratic and Republican parties. This Sunday, Faulkner leads her second town hall in Iowa to source perspectives from the American people on some of these trending topics, which continue to increase in relevancy ahead of 2020.
"When things start to grow across the nation, it becomes more than just a topic you cover," says Faulkner on her daily responsibility of reporting in the current political climate. “It becomes the fabric of what people will take with them when they go to the polls."
The FOX News anchor of Outnumbered Overtime, expects her second town hall to tackle the impact of the #MeToo movement on the 2020 election, the Democratic Party and the rise of socialism, yet she is also open to discussions based on what people have to say.
“We need to gather how they see it because that's all that matters," Faulkner shares. “It's not a matter of for or against, but rather the principles within these topics that both parties need to be aware of."
We had the chance to chat with Faulkner ahead of her town hall (airing at 8pm/ET on Sunday, April 14) about the impact of town halls, importance of listening, and the significance of the media ahead of the elections.
Tell me more about the town hall.
Town Hall America is something that my team and I fashioned last year. We wanted to pick issues affecting people all around America, and actually listen to them. If we're covering the border, we need to go to a border state. That's why I want to go to Iowa, not just once but three times in 30 days—we know the world will be focused on them as they begin to caucus. I've positioned myself as a keynote to hear from so many people, particularly women, and I want the few questions that I ask at the town hall to reflect that they're being heard.
What do town halls mean to you?
It's important that we talk and listen to each other. The one thing my mom used to say that resonates with me everyday is, 'Don't talk when other women talk.' We tend to be active listeners and say 'uh huh' but then we miss a lot, so try to be silent when you listen. She wasn't a political lady, but she was a big believer in people working together.
What is the layout of this town hall?
This talk will be in a barn but in round style so people will be able to see each other; I love that people can make eye contact. To me, that causes accountability, a richness of discussion, of possibility and opportunity to say, 'I don't agree with that, here's my perspective' or to say, 'You know what, we're nothing alike but wow, listen to that.' I like to gather before and after a town hall to make myself available to those conversations. I will be covering this through the next election and I want to start with openness.
Why do you think it's important to have these conversations?
We have such an interesting conversation going on right now with the #MeToo movement—who would have thought that anything could have competed with health care?
The situation with former Vice President Joe Biden is just one of the conversations that's lit up in the past few weeks, but it's important that we come at these issues with more than just emotion.
The current president has done something for the elector—to build that political energy on both sides of the isle. If people don't vote, how can they approach making their lives better? I've seen more HR departments put out notices to not talk about politics in the office. I've never seen that before—everyone is talking and feels like they want to be informed.
What do you think are the most important topics facing women for 2020?
The #MeToo movement and healthcare.
Also, being able to take advantage of where we are with the number of jobs available. It's one thing to go out and get one of those numerous jobs but if you talk about injecting women into the work force in a meaningful way, it includes all of us being able to reach up and pull up to hold positions in a higher place—and to be able to continue to reach. If we are going to change the parameters of how women are treated in and out of the work force we need to have more women at the top.
What do you want to tell female voters or women looking to get more involved in these topics?
My speech is less on politics and more on how we see ourselves rising. One of my principles is to be picky with who we are around—our 'squad goals.' We probably all need to fire some people in our inner circle who don't want us to do our best.
To segway that into politics, women vote in higher numbers per capita than men; we have a lot of power at the polls. We cannot be marginalized. We each have our own life perspective.
I'm a mom, I'm a black mom, I'm a wife, I'm working and balancing, not perfectly, but with all my heart and all my passion. I am not the same woman as someone who has the blessing of more children than I do and is choosing to homeschool those kids. We are different but in one way we are the same; we are powerful and when we go to vote, we are everything. That's why it's important to hear from all walks of life.
What should the media be doing more of in lead up to the presidential elections? What about less of?
I think that we should be doing less pontificating and more reporting. I know this is the day and age of quick bait on Twitter, but let's concede the fact that people will read your Tweet if they are following you because they are your followers—let's just concede that and go after the actual facts. We [journalists] play a role in America that is special, not only constitutionally special, but it's important because people are living their life at such fast speed that they may miss something—so we have a service.
America is a special place but we have to protect it. So when you ask me what should we be doing: drive hard in the lane of news and journalism—political news is a part of that—get in your lane and drive hard.
4 Min Read
During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.
When I tried to chime in, I kept getting interrupted. At one point two individuals talked right over me and over each other. When I thought it was finally my turn, someone else parachuted in from out of nowhere. When I raised and waved my hand as if I was in grade school to be called on (yes, I had my camera on) we swiftly moved on to the next topic. And then, completely frustrated, I stayed on mute for the remainder of the meeting. I even momentarily shut off my camera to devour the rest of my heavily bruised, brown banana. (No one needed to see that.)
This wasn't the first time I had struggled to find my voice. Since elementary school, I always preferring the back seat unless the teacher assigned me a seat in the front. In high school, I did piles of extra credit or mini-reports to offset my 0% in class participation. In college, I went into each lecture nauseous and with wasted prayers — wishing and hoping that I wouldn't be cold-called on by the professor.
By the time I got to Corporate America, it was clear that if I wanted to lead, I needed to pull my chair up (and sometimes bring my own), sit right at the table front and center, and ask for others to make space for me. From then on, I found my voice and never stop using it.
But now, all of a sudden, in this forced social experiment of mass remote working, I was having trouble being heard… again. None of the coaching I had given myself and other women on finding your voice seemed to work when my voice was being projected across a conference call and not a conference room.
I couldn't read any body language. I couldn't see if others were about to jump in and I should wait or if it was my time to speak. They couldn't see if I had something to say. For our Microsoft teams setting, you can only see a few faces on your screen, the rest are icons at the bottom of the window with a static picture or even just their name. And, even then, I couldn't see some people simply because they wouldn't turn their cameras on.
If I did get a chance to speak and cracked a funny joke, well, I didn't hear any laughing. Most people were on mute. Or maybe the joke wasn't that funny?
At one point, I could hear some heavy breathing and the unwrapping of (what I could only assume was) a candy bar. I imagined it was a Nestle Crunch Bar as my tummy rumbled in response to the crinkling of unwrapped candy. (There is a right and a wrong time to mute, people.)
At another point, I did see one face nodding at me blankly.
They say that remote working will be good for women. They say it will level the playing field. They say it will be more inclusive. But it won't be for me and others if I don't speak up now.
- Start with turning your camera on and encouraging others to do the same. I was recently in a two-person meeting. My camera was on, but the other person wouldn't turn theirs on. In that case, ten minutes in, I turned my camera off. You can't stare at my fuzzy eyebrows and my pile of laundry in the background if I can't do the same to you. When you have a willing participant, you'd be surprised by how helpful it can be to make actual eye contact with someone, even on a computer (and despite the fuzzy eyebrows).
- Use the chatbox. Enter in your questions. Enter in your comments. Dialogue back and forth. Type in a joke. I did that recently and someone entered back a laughing face — reaffirming that I was, indeed, funny.
- Designate a facilitator for the meeting: someone leading, coaching, and guiding. On my most recent call, a leader went around ensuring everyone was able to contribute fairly. She also ensured she asked for feedback on a specific topic and helped move the discussion around so no one person took up all the airtime.
- Unmute yourself. Please don't just sit there on mute for the entire meeting. Jump in and speak up. You will be interrupted. You will interrupt others. But don't get frustrated or discouraged — this is what work is now — just keep showing up and contributing.
- Smile, and smile big. Nod your head in agreement. Laugh. Give a thumbs up; give two! Wave. Make a heart with your hands. Signal to others on the call who are contributing that you support and value them. They will do the same in return when your turn comes to contribute.
It's too easy to keep your camera turned off. It's too easy to stay on mute. It's too easy to disappear. But now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to stay engaged and networked within our organizations and communities.
So please don't put yourself on mute.
Well, actually, please do put yourself on mute so I don't have to hear your heavy breathing, candy bar crunching, or tinkling bathroom break.
But after that, please take yourself off mute so you can reclaim your seat (and your voice) at the table.