Advertisement

| Home | Q&A With Beth Fouhy, The Associated Press, New York City bureau -- May 2006
August 31, 2014

Beth Fouhy covers Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and state and national politics for The Associated Press, based in New York City. From 2003 to 2005, she was a political writer for the AP in San Francisco, where she covered the historic recall of Gov. Gray Davis and the election and administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Before moving to California in 2001, Beth spent 13 years at CNN in Washington, D.C., covering politics and Capitol Hill. She served as executive producer of the network's political unit during the 2000 presidential campaign. Beth is an honors graduate of Oberlin College and was a Knight Fellow at Stanford University from 2001-2002. She lives in Pelham, New York with her husband and son.
Beth Fouhy

JournalismJobs.com: There are different facets to covering Hillary Clinton: Hillary the local politician, Hillary the national celebrity, and Hillary the presidential prospect. Can you tell us how the AP handles its coverage of Hillary and your role? What do you like best about this beat?

Beth Fouhy: What's amazing about covering Sen. Clinton is how it is both very exciting and often extremely mundane. On the one hand, she is one of the most famous figures in the world -- a former first lady turned New York senator who might become the first woman president of the United States. But on the other hand, she continues to insist -- at least publicly -- that she is solely focused on her Senate re-election campaign, and won't even entertain questions about her presidential prospects no matter how hard she is pushed. So for now, political reporters are in a constant state of wait -- waiting for her to tip her hand, waiting for her to say something that would offer a window into her thinking. In terms of mechanics, right now our coverage of Sen. Clinton is directed by AP's veteran New York political reporter and editor, Marc Humbert. AP's New York regional reporter in Washington, Devlin Barrett, covers her day-to-day activities there. When she gives a major, presidential campaign-style speech or appearance outside New York, it is handled by AP's national political desk in Washington. When and if Sen. Clinton becomes a national candidate, the Washington political desk and our lead political writer, Ron Fournier, will steer the coverage.

JournalismJobs.com: Hillary is obviously a controversial figure who provokes intense feelings on all sides. Is it difficult to maintain the appearance of neutrality when deciding which angles to cover? What is the most challenging part about covering her?

Beth Fouhy: She certainly does provoke intense reaction. Every time I write a story about her, I am deluged by e-mails -- from conservatives who think I'm in the tank with her, and from liberals who think I'm too tough or unfair. Some of the e-mails are really ugly -- full of profanity and vitriol. People just have such strong feelings about her and want to express them. The whole experience has served as a good reminder of the AP's worldwide presence and influence. The best I can do is to stay very clear and focused in my stories, always make the extra phone call, do my research, and resist any temptation to be lazy or cut corners. If I accomplish all that and turn out a fair and credible news story, I feel like I don't have to worry when the e-mails start rolling in.

JournalismJobs.com: Before you took the beat covering Hillary Clinton, you covered Arnold Schwarzenegger's election to California governor. What is the biggest difference between covering West Coast and East Coast politics?

Beth Fouhy: Actually, covering the California recall election and the Schwarzenegger era was good preparation for covering Sen. Clinton. It got me used to dealing with a celebrity candidate, larger than life, who commands a lot more attention than your run-of-the-mill politician. New York is the center of the national media universe, of course, and to many people here, California seems very far away. There's definitely a certain East Coast myopia. But I'm reminded every day how much better rounded a reporter I've become, having covered California. I have a much broader view of the ongoing immigration debate, for example, than I would have had I not spent time in California. And I like to remind people here that New York is losing population while California is 37 million strong and growing. The nation's power center is definitely tipping west.

JournalismJobs.com: Before working at the AP, you were an executive producer for CNN's Inside Politics. Most people move from print to broadcast, but not many go from broadcast to print. How challenging was the transition for you? Do you intend to return to TV news?

Beth Fouhy: CNN was actually great preparation for AP, since both specialize in covering breaking news in real time. Thanks to 13 years at CNN, I've never been intimidated by the pace of AP, while reporters who join AP after working in newspapers are often really overwhelmed by it. I am asked all the time whether I prefer print or television. I can honestly say I love both, and there are plusses and minuses to both. I really enjoy the autonomy of being a print reporter, but I miss the teamwork of television. And while print allows stories to be told with much more breadth and depth, TV still has such a monumental impact. AP is moving toward a lot of media convergence, with the goal of having stories produced across a lot of different platforms -- print, radio, TV, Internet. I'm looking forward to being a part of that and feel like all my years in television will be good preparation.

JournalismJobs.com: As a 2001-2002 Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, you studied the lives and political concerns of college-age women. Why did you choose this topic? Does your knowledge in this area influence your reporting in any way?

Beth Fouhy: It was something I was curious about both personally and professionally. As a political journalist, you end up covering a lot of stories about the concerns of older people -- Medicare, Social Security -- because older people vote in disproportionally large numbers and politicians bend over backward to heed their concerns. When I was accepted at Stanford, I suddenly realized I'd be walking onto a campus populated by a demographic group I knew nothing about. I was really curious to find out what they cared about, and what was on their minds. And I was especially interested in hearing from college women to see if their lives and concerns were anything like mine were at that age. It's all coming full circle now, with Hillary Clinton possibly poised to run for president and two new justices who might tip the Supreme Court in the direction of overturning or significantly changing Roe vs. Wade. It will be interesting to see how a younger generation of women respond to both of those huge political developments.

JournalismJobs.com: Your father is Ed Fouhy, a well-respected former network news executive. How did he influence your decision to become a journalist?

Beth Fouhy: He's been a huge influence, and I still aspire to be as good a journalist as he was. I tried to stay away from journalism at first, because I didn't want to do the exact same thing my father did. But I quickly realized there are few careers more interesting, exciting and dynamic. It's a cliché, but journalists get to witness history from a front row seat, and not many jobs can beat that.


Copyright © 2006 JournalismJobs.com LLC. All rights reserved.


Other JournalismJobs.com interviews:
  • Karen Breslau, San Francisco bureau chief, Newsweek Magazine -- April 2006
  • James Bettinger, director, Knight Journalism Fellowships, Stanford University -- April 2006
  • Peter Johnson, media columnist, USA Today, Dec. 2005
  • Macarena Hernández, editorial columnist, Dallas Morning News, Sept. 2005
  • Hari Srinivasan, anchor/correspondent, ABC News Now, August 2005
  • Bethany McLean, senior writer, Fortune Magazine, June 2005
  • John Rawlings, editor, The Sporting News magazine, April 2005
  • Don Wycliff, Public Editor, The Chicago Tribune, March 2005
  • Nikhil Deogun, Washington Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2005
  • Steve Scully, host, senior executive producer and political editor, C-SPAN, Dec. 2004
  • David Shuster, correspondent, NBC News / 'Hardball' on MSNBC -- Oct./Nov. 2004
  • Jody Brannon, executive producer, USAToday.com, Sept. 2004
  • Paul Ingrassia, president, Dow Jones Newswires, August 2004
  • Phil Pan, Beijing bureau chief, The Washington Post, May 2004
  • Terence Smith, media correspondent, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Jan./Feb. 2004
  • David Shaw, media critic, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 2003
  • David Greenberg, columnist, Slate.com; former managing editor, The New Republic, Sept. 2003
  • Dan Noyes, co-founder and editorial director, Center for Investigative Reporting, August 2003
  • Michelle Nicolosi, editor, Online Journalism Review, June/July 2003
  • Matt Labash, senior writer, The Weekly Standard, May 2003
  • Michele Norris, co-host of NPR's "All Things Considered," April 2003
  • Bob Schieffer, anchor and correspondent, CBS News/Face the Nation, March 2003
  • Larry Lee, CEO, SacObserver.com (Sacramento Observer), Feb. 2003
  • Larry Reisman, Editor, Vero Beach (Fla.) Press Journal, Jan. 2003
  • Deborah Potter, Executive Director, Newslab.org, Nov./Dec. 2002
  • Orville Schell, dean, Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, Graduate J-school, September 2002
  • Tracy Wood, editor, Ms. Magazine, August 2002
  • Mike Hoyt, executive editor, Columbia Journalism Review, July 2002
  • Louis Wiley, executive editor, PBS 'Frontline,' May/June 2002
  • John Sasaki, reporter, KTVU-TV (FOX), March/April 2002
  • Dan Fost, media reporter, San Francisco Chronicle, February 2002
  • Carol Guzy, photographer, The Washington Post, January 2002
  • Roger Cohn, editor-in-chief, Mother Jones Magazine, December 2001
  • Mike Luckovich, cartoonist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- November 2001
  • Lisa Chamberlain, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Free Times -- October 2001
  • Ben Fong-Torres, former reporter and editor, Rolling Stone magazine -- October 2001
  • Raul Ramirez, news director, KQED Radio -- September 2001
  • James Daly, founder and former editor in chief, Business 2.0 Magazine -- August 2001
  • James Fallows, correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly -- July 2001
  • David Ignatius, executive editor, International Herald Tribune -- July 2001
  • David Talbot, founder and editor, Salon.com -- June 2001
  • Ed Fouhy, former CBS, ABC and NBC news executive -- June 2001
  • Linda Cohn, anchor/reporter, ESPN -- May 2001
  • Sol Levine, former producer, CNN -- April 2001
  • Charlie LeDuff, reporter, New York Times -- March 2001
  • Pierre Thomas, correspondent, ABC News -- March 2001
  • Gene Roberts, former managing editor, New York Times -- February 2001
  • Sydnie Kohara, anchor, CNET.com -- January 2001
  • Lowell Bergman, former producer, 60 Minutes -- January 2001
  • Joie Chen, anchor, CNN -- December 2000
  • David Plotz, Washington Bureau Chief, Slate.com -- November 2000
  • Christopher John Farley, senior writer and pop music critic, Time Magazine -- October 2000
  • Bob Edwards, news anchor, National Public Radio -- October 2000
  • Sharon Epperson, CNBC correspondent -- September 2000
  • David Maraniss, reporter, The Washington Post -- April 2000
  • Wolf Blitzer, anchor, CNN -- March 2000