Fox News Reporter Adam Housley Leaves Amid Objections to NetworkPolitico
August 26, 2018
Another on-air reporter is leaving Fox News over frustrations with the direction and tone of the network, the second in the last three weeks to defect for those reasons.
Adam Housley, a Los Angeles-based reporter who joined Fox in 2001, felt there was diminished opportunity at the network for reporters and disapproved of the tenor of its on-air discussion, according to two former Fox News employees with knowledge of his situation.
Housley believed that as the network's focus on Trump has grown - and the number of talking-head panels during news shows proliferated - it had become difficult to get hard reporting on air, according to one of those former employees.
"He's not doing the type of journalism he wants to be doing," the former employee said. "And he is unhappy with the tone of the conversation of the channel."
Housley's objections to the Trump-era Fox News are widely shared within the network's reporting corps, according to current and former employees of the network. Conor Powell, the former Fox News Jerusalem bureau reporter, left the network earlier this month for similar reasons, according to a person close to him.
"People are losing their minds," one current Fox News personality said, adding that reporters have relayed in conversation that the climate for them is worse than ever before.
Housley declined an interview but, in a statement shared by a Fox News spokesperson, said: "After nearly two decades at Fox News, I have decided to leave the network and take some time in northern California to raise our two young children closer to my family, which includes running the family winery and even coaching their sports teams. I could not be more proud of the journalism I did at the network, from war zones, to tsunamis, to watching miners pulled from the ground in Chile, I am grateful for the extraordinary opportunities to have a front seat to history and cover news all over the world. A huge thank you to the many Fox employees, especially behind the scenes, who have supported me every step of the way. We are friends for life."
Fox News' president, Jay Wallace, said in his own statement: "We thank Adam for his many years of service - his passion for storytelling, professionalism and dedication to journalism made our reporting stand out on countless stories throughout his tenure. We wish him and his family the very best."
Fox News declined further comment.
Certainly, as Trump has come to dominate the news, Fox is not the only network spending more time with panelists spouting opinions instead of reporters in the field. Panels proliferate on CNN and MSNBC, as well.
"News gathering is very expensive. Talking in a studio is very inexpensive," said Greta Van Susteren, a longtime former Fox News host who has also worked for CNN and MSNBC. "And as long as the ratings are high when they're talking in the studio, you're going to get more of that."
Fox has also broken stories - it has covered the killing of Mollie Tibbetts aggressively - and landed several big interviews, including Chris Wallace's widely praised grilling of Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.
But Housley is hardly alone in his feeling that the "news" part of Fox News has been marginalized. According to the second person with knowledge of his thinking, his reasons for leaving were similar to those of Powell, the foreign correspondent who recently departed.
Powell reported for nine years for Fox News from the Middle East but, according to a friend who worked with him overseas, felt that the network had moved away from news and more toward opinion. With less opportunity to report on air, the friend said, it became more difficult for Powell to stomach what he saw the Fox News brand becoming.
"Conor was growing increasingly embarrassed by the channel, by the positions, by the relentless blind defense of Trump," the friend said. "If you're overseas and doing important work like Conor was, you can certainly focus on the work and tell yourself, 'Hey I'm doing important things and I'm just going to focus on this and ignore all the rest.' But it just became impossible to ignore."
When Powell decided to leave Fox News, he did not yet have a new landing spot. "I think it says so much, he didn't quit and go somewhere else," the friend said. "He doesn't know what he's doing next."
Housley, a former minor-league baseball pitcher who is married to the actress and former "Sister, Sister" star Tamera Mowry, also does not have a next job lined up.
The Wrap first reported on Powell's departure. Adweek broke the news of Housley's decision on Thursday, though did not report on his frustrations with the network.
A former Fox News employee still in touch with old colleagues said that several are itchy to get out.
"Many Fox News employees I talked to would jump at an opportunity to leave if there was one, just out of frustration," the former employee said. "There is a frustration with being tied to the Trump administration. At the end of the day, journalists want to report facts."
It's nothing new that many Fox News personalities support Trump, but prime-time hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson have lately come under particular criticism for promoting nationalist themes on their shows.
In one instance earlier this month, Ingraham said on her 10 p.m. program: "The America we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like." She later said that her statements "had nothing to do with race or ethnicity."
Earlier this year Carlson said, "Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country, at a rate that American voters consistently say they don't want."
Wednesday night on air, Carlson highlighted a white-nationalist talking point related to South Africa - which Trump ended up echoing in his Twitter feed.
While the current and former Fox staffers who spoke to POLITICO expressed respect for news anchors like Shepard Smith, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, they also said that the network had diminished space for those sorts of voices.
One former producer described a general belief among reporters that it was harder to get their material on air.
"All the reporters were very frustrated," the former producer said. "They were restless and tired of working overtime to not get any air time."
Fox News has added programs it labels as news in the last year, including shows like "Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulkner" and "Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream," but there is a feeling that, even on shows like those, panel discussion - often right-leaning - is crowding out space for reporting. And that some news anchors are increasingly tilting their views to accommodate viewers' pro-Trump sentiment.
Just as employees in the Trump administration have fretted that their current jobs will make it harder to find their next ones, some journalists at Fox have questioned whether the network's Trump-ward drift will make future employment more difficult.
It's common knowledge in the industry that CNN's president, Jeff Zucker, has limited interest in meeting with journalists coming from Fox News, according to one agent. MSNBC remains amenable to hiring Fox News employees, the agent said.
Van Susteren lamented what she felt was the drift across cable news toward opinion, away from news.
"It's a loss for viewers," she said. "I happen to prefer news gathering so I can make up my own opinion instead of listening to someone else's."