TV journalist Beth Fouhy to discuss election, protests, politics

Evidence-based research shows that in addition to health benefits, frequent family dinner table conversations about important issues spark children’s intellectual curiosity, and improve their communication, logical reasoning, analytical ability, negotiating, and creative problem-solving skills. 


As she was growing up in New York State and Maryland, Beth Fouhy said that “there was an expectation that as a family, we’d sit down at 6 o’clock and watch the news. At the dinner table, we discussed (it). … When I was a young adult and started visiting friends’ dinner tables, they were less interesting.”

Eventually, watching the news turned into covering it as a journalist. For decades, Fouhy has served as a political reporter, producer, and editor at major U.S. news organizations. As senior politics editor at NBC News and MSNBC, she supervises political coverage across television and digital platforms.

At 3:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Aug. 11, on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform, Fouhy will talk about “Politics, Protests, and a Pandemic: How the 2020 Election Has Been Transformed,” as part of the Contemporary Issues Forum, sponsored by the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

“When I first agreed to do this talk, it was long before the COVID pandemic,” Fouhy said. “Normally at this time, there would have been at least one convention and we would know which are the battleground states, the ads running, and the challenger’s running mate. But COVID has changed the trajectory of the campaign. Everything is taking place under the shadow of the pandemic.”

Consequently, Fouhy said that she will “talk about everything that comes from the COVID crisis,” including economic collapse and racial reckoning.

After graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio with honors in English and literature, and developing her life-long passion for musical theater (in part by spending summers working as a singing waitress), she found her way into journalism.

“My father (Edward Fouhy) was a very distinguished and beloved and accomplished news (producer and executive) at CBS News primarily, but also at NBC and ABC,” she said. “He covered the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, and Washington during Nixon’s tenure, including Nixon’s trip to China and his impeachment. This always informed our life at home and our conversations. … I like being engaged, and so close to the news.”

Fouhy’s first news job was as a booker for CNN’s nightly current events talk show, “Crossfire,” which initially aired from 1982 to 2005.

“I got a job at CNN despite having no background in journalism,” she said. “It was so new that it was just getting on its feet. At the time, CNN paid so poorly it was almost impossible to make a salary you could live on, especially with a family. At the same time, I was applying to journalism school. I was accepted, but I already had a news job.”

At CNN, Fouhy produced several shows, including “Crossfire” and “Inside Politics.” During the historic Bush v. Gore presidential election recount in Florida in 2000, she served as executive producer of the CNN political unit.

“The 2000 election was a huge, huge, huge undertaking,” she said. “By the time it ended in September, I was burned out. I thought about taking a step back and a year for reflection.”

Accepting a year-long John S. Knight fellowship for mid-career journalists at Stanford University, Fouhy moved to northern California in 2001.

“I got there five days before 9/11,” she said. “All of us (Knight Fellows) were journalists, so it felt strange (not to be reporting on it). But the program focused on things to learn from the 9/11 attacks — Islam, roots of terrorism, the Middle East — from the academic sense.”

When Fouhy’s husband was offered a job in Silicon Valley, they decided to remain in California. Because CNN had no work for her there, she turned to freelance writing. She said that the San Francisco Chronicle gave her assignments and alerted her to a job with the Associated Press in San Francisco.

“It was really exciting because everything was so new to me — the West Coast, print journalism, and the AP,” Fouhy said.

At the time, the top political story was the California gubernatorial recall election that replaced incumbent Democratic Gov. Gray Davis with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fouhy was tapped to cover it during the latter half of 2003, as well as Schwarzenegger’s subsequent tenure as governor.

After nearly three years in California with the AP, she learned that her husband’s job was being transferred to New York. Fouhy responded by successfully pitching to the AP that they should transfer her to New York to cover U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2006 campaign for reelection to a second term.

“I saw quite a bit of (Clinton),” Fouhy said. “I covered her that whole year as senator, and from when she started running (for the Democratic presidential nomination) in 2007 through the end of 2008.”

Reporting on the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin came next in 2008, plus a few weeks covering Barack Obama.

“I was on the buses and planes, in a squad,” Fouhy said. “There was really great access to candidates. … Following a candidate on the road is extremely labor intensive, with late nights and long hours. But also, you get to see the country. I went to 40 states (and to Mexico and Columbia), and saw the candidates up close every day. How they interact with the public and how the public interacts with them. It’s a great thing to do at least once.”

Fouhy said that after the presidential election she continued her political policy beat, reporting on governors and the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

“I also covered New York politics, including (now President Donald) Trump, when he distinguished himself with birtherism,” she said. “… He became part of my portfolio.”

In 2012, Fouhy took on AP’s money and media beat, leading its coverage of money and politics in the presidential race. She focused on how Mitt Romney and Obama were spending money and how that was affecting polling.

The following year, Fouhy served as Yahoo!’s senior editor for politics and national news before being recruited by NBC News to be the senior editor of MSNBC Digital for two years.

“Then my role broadened out and I got my current title,” Fouhy said.

As senior politics editor at NBC News and MSNBC, which have embraced the business news channel CNBC as a partner in the NBC family, she said she provides news and content for NBC’s digital and streaming presence.

“Personally, I help manage our day-to-day coverage of the campaigns, reporters, young people, stakeholders, and the folks making planning decisions, and I do reporting and analysis of the current campaigns,” Fouhy said. “Because I’ve been doing this for a while, I also have a historical perspective.”

She often appears as a reporter and analyst on TV programs, such as “Hardball,” “Meet the Press Daily,” and “MSNBC Live.”

Among the awards Fouhy has received are the New York Press Club Award for Political Reporting, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award for Wire Service Beat Reporting.

Intellectual curiosity, communication, logical reasoning, analytical ability, negotiating, creative problem-solving. Throughout her journalism career, Fouhy has been honing and sharing strengths and skills that she began learning and developing during engaging family dinner table conversations about important national issues and events.

Tags : APBeth Fouhychautauqua women's clubCNNCommunityContemporary Issues ForumDeborah TreftsMSNBCNBC NewsYahoo!

The author Deborah Trefts

Deborah Trefts is a policy scientist with extensive United States, Canadian and additional international experience in conservation. She focuses on the resolution of ocean and freshwater-related challenges and the art and science of deciphering and developing public policy at all levels from global to local.