If you were looking for signs that this was no longer Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday, perhaps all you needed to do was listen to the music playing during the commercial breaks. The playlist included Van Halen’s “Jump,” “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart, and Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer.”
“We do enjoy some cheesy 1980’s music,” Bream told me in an interview this week, describing the 80’s as her favorite decade. “I find that guests will almost dance their way into the studio, and it kind of catches them a little bit off guard and hopefully loosens them up a little bit.” It’s something she used to do on her show Fox News @ Night, with 80’s tunes playing in the studio and into the earpieces of guests joining from remote locations. “They’ll weigh in on what their favorite band was, or say ‘oh my goodness I haven’t heard that song in 30 years!’”
It’s one of the small ways Shannon Bream is putting her stamp on Fox News’ flagship public affairs program, becoming only the third person to anchor the show after Tony Snow and Chris Wallace, who reached out to Bream after her debut last weekend. “I got the nicest email from Chris saying that he was very happy I was stepping into the new role.” Wallace, who left for CNN (and the short-lived CNN+) after 18 years at Fox, said he was happy to see Bream keeping Fox News Sunday as a straight news show. “He was really happy to see that we would continue down that path,” she said.
But beyond the music, Bream’s already making the show her own. Her team will be using social media to bring people into the conversation who might not otherwise sit down in front of their TV on a Sunday morning in the way their parents might have. “It’s a two-way conversation,” Bream told me, and social media will be part of the show. “I think that’s where young people are getting their news, they’re discussing hot button debates and ideas. So we’ll go there and try to have that conversation with them, hoping they’ll come over and join us as well.”
Bream also intends to showcase her interviewing style, which is conversational and friendly, but tough when she can’t get a guest to answer a question. “I want every guest who comes through to say ‘that was fair and I would go back.’”
In a political climate where politicians seem unwilling to stray from talking points, interviews can be a frustrating and discouraging thing to watch. Bream says she’s hoping to bring guests on her show that are less predictable, and maybe willing to make some news. “My hope is that we’ll have conversations that people actually feel are beneficial. They’re deeper, they’re meaningful, that maybe move the ball.”
With a long background covering law and the Supreme Court for Fox, Bream will bring that expertise into Sunday mornings, with no shortage of legal issues to cover—and clarify. “I think there’s a lot of misinformation,” Bream said. She hopes to lure Attorney General Merrick Garland into an interview, and “I don’t think it’ll be too long before we have one of the justices joins us as well.”
When I asked if hosting Fox News Sunday was a goal of Bream’s, she recalled a question someone asked her 15 years ago. “I remember someone asking me what would your dream job here be, and I just sort of blurted out, it would be really exciting and interesting to do Fox News Sunday. But honestly, in the 15 years since then, I never really worked towards that aim, or lobbied (for it.)” But when bosses at Fox made the decision on replacing Wallace, they chose Bream. “And I think, if I’m being honest,” Bream told me, “I was super surprised when I got the phone call.”