‘The View’s Paula Faris on Kim Davis, Diapers and “Jerk” Comedians
Paula Faris is happening, baby! The Good Morning America weekend anchor recently joined The View as cohost, plus she beat out Fox News to land the first interview with controversial county clerk Kim Davis. But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows.
You have so much going on right now. And you’re a mother of three. Is all this crazy-making?
[Laughs] I’m hanging on for dear life! My life can be a s–t show at home. I’m constantly cleaning up messy diapers. There’s always someone needing my attention. Often, I’m barely making it through the day just trying to raise my family. But that’s a good thing. It means I don’t have time to overthink any of this.
There was much media attention on you and the other contenders for those empty View chairs. How was it having such a public tryout?
I never thought of it as a tryout because I never thought my being a guest host could lead to a full-time position. I used to freak myself out about things like that but, with The View, I went in not worrying about where it might lead. Maybe that’s the secret.
Have you seen a change in yourself since you joined the show?
I have never felt more informed in my entire life! Whenever there’s a big story, people look to me to have the facts and set the record straight, like I’m the encyclopedia. When you work in news and have an assignment, you get hyper-focused on that one particular story and ignore everything else. [Laughs] I can’t do that anymore! Now I feel I have to know a lot about everything. But, as a result, I see a real evolution in my confidence.
So what’s your impression of Kim Davis?
I give her a lot of credit because she could have gone to Fox News first. But the Duggars went to Fox and that [scandal] didn’t go away. I got in Kim’s face, asked the tough questions, and she did not avoid the answers. We talked an hour and 20 minutes and I asked, “Why is your religious liberty more important than someone’s legal right to marry?” I had to look in her eyes and say, “Many people say you’re a hypocrite.” It was a tough exchange. People have shouted and cursed at her. She has received death threats. People tell her they’re going to burn down her home, tie her up and watch her husband rape her. Yet she has never raised her voice, never responded in anger. Look at her body language. Listen to her. So much hate and vitriol has been spewed at her, yet she is not responding with hate and vitriol. That says a lot about her character. I wasn’t there to rip the woman to shreds. I was not there to be friends. I was there to be fair. I treat each interview with respect, and always remember that the story is not about me.
Is scoring a big get like Kim Davis addictive?
It sure whets the appetite, and you see it as leverage to land another big interview. But you know what? This competition thing is just not me. I’d much rather be home playing Uno with my kids. My friends are all from my high school and college years. I’m not the life of the party. In fact, my idea of a party is a bottle of wine and a flip cup tournament—the husbands against the wives. I don’t need the spotlight. I’m really an introvert.
Well, you sure hold your own on The View, like when you questioned why comedians should have free rein to insult. The comics at the table—Whoopi, Joy and Michelle—didn’t care for that.
I feel like being a comedian is a license to be a jerk. How is that fair? If I said something inappropriate on TV I’d be taken off the air and maybe fired, but a comedian could say the same thing and it’s all right? I’m just not willing to accept that. Why should some people get a free pass? Words are powerful no matter who’s saying them. And then [the comedian cohosts] were getting on Nicole Arbour for crossing the line with her [“Dear Fat People”] video! And, by the way, who exactly gets to call themselves a comedian? Do you go to comedian school and get a certificate? Some people are self-proclaimed comedians. Do they have the same freedom as professional comedians do?
So where was it all left? Was there more discussion backstage?
I feel we talked in circles about it, because there’s no resolution. But you know what? We’ve got bigger beasts than that to deal with in our world. I like that we at The View can have those discussions at the table. We respect each other’s voices. We’ll challenge each other and agree to disagree. And we are setting a nice little example for the country, which is so polarized now that we can no longer say, “You can have your beliefs, and I’ll have mine, and we’ll all be okay with that.” No, instead we feel that we must change the other person’s beliefs. We don’t want to open our minds and hear other voices any more. We only want to hear our own.
Being a newscaster and a talk show star could be a conflict.
Not if I keep my political opinions to myself. I won’t compromise my integrity as a journalist. I draw a line when it comes to politics. I’m never going to advocate for or against a candidate. I try to stay with the hard-line facts and let everyone else say the more inflammatory remarks. When it comes to certain personal issues, like faith and family, I will open up. But if I interview Donald Trump, I sure don’t want him to know what I’ll be punching at the ballot box.