Fox Business host Trish Regan is sitting at her desk on the second floor of Fox’s Manhattan studios where she’s safe from the wind that’s stinging city-dwellers around the network’s headquarters on Sixth Avenue. Her hair goes with the studio’s ruby-red floor and provides a warm contrast to the silver earrings and the snow-white dress she’s wearing on a bitterly cold winter night.
Regan is surrounded by the opaquely colored, patriotically themed television screens that are characteristic of Fox’s sets. With her name plastered on those screens, she pats her hair before interviewing another one of her many high-profile guests that night. She appears calm amid all the excitement surrounding her new prime-time show, but her upright posture and slightly rigid movements indicate she’s ready for more than just an interview — it’s a performance.
When IJR observed her this winter, Regan was only in her second month as the anchor of her new prime-time program on Fox Business, and she was already dominating the competition. After only a few months, she has bested CNBC’s programming — an accomplishment she boldly predicted when the show debuted in October. And as the only female business host at 8 p.m. ET, she’s helped the network achieve a 57 percent increase in viewership for her timeslot.
She’s also landed a number of high-profile interviews, including Tuesday’s, which put her show at the center of an international crisis. Casually transitioning between Spanish and English, Regan conversed with Juan Guaido, the man whom the international community squabbled over during his quest to overtake dictator Nicolas Maduro amid Venezuela’s economic collapse.
“There’s an art to communication,” she told IJR during an exclusive interview in November. As a teenager, Regan performed as an opera singer and spent “hours” learning the foreign languages behind her classical song lyrics. It was a complicated and collaborative endeavor that she said helped her prepare for the ensemble of a television news production.
“It’s team-oriented because you’re often singing in duets or trios; you’ve got a cast, you’ve got the orchestra; there’s a lot that goes into it,” she explained.
On screen, she partakes in Fox’s signature aesthetic. It’s that combination of cocktail attire with a straightforward and sometimes playful discussion about politics or business. Off-camera, she seemed just as bold as her network’s commentary; wearing a pumpkin-orange coat while speaking to IJR in Fox’s cafeteria.
Her on-screen demeanor often pushes her voice to a lower pitch and prompts her eyes to intensely look at the camera when she’s talking about the economy or the Russia investigation. But throughout her program, she also gently weaves in time for laughter or a friendly conversation with a reporter before the two do a segment together.
Before one of her shows, I listened to her makeup artist, Vincenza, describe how fun it was to primp a host like Regan. Regan, she said, was like a “doll” whom she was excited to work on; that comment prompted a proverbial slap on the wrist from Regan, who complained that Vincenza was making her “blush.”
Just look at Regan’s Instagram and you’ll see a slew of comments remarking how stunning she is. She was, after all, a beauty queen. In 1993, Regan competed as Miss New Hampshire in the Miss America pageant, a position she sought because she needed money for college.
“I certainly never thought I was pretty as a kid,” she tells me before explaining that she had to take her cousin to the eighth-grade graduation dance.
When asked about how physical appearance influences TV personalities’ success, she remarks, “It’s not everything.” Pointing to talk show empress Oprah Winfrey, Regan contends that a lot of a TV host’s allure comes from his or her display of empathy and warmth when speaking to viewers.
A glance at Regan’s resume reveals that she’s more than a beauty queen who ascended to journalistic prominence. Regan, 46, only entered journalism after a career in banking. While studying history at Columbia University, she also pursued a full-time position in emerging debt markets at Goldman Sachs.
She also attributes her rigorous work ethic to the hours she spent studying classical music and foreign languages as a professional singer. Her new prime-time slot seems to represent the culmination of her career in journalism — a risky choice she pursued after leaving her prestigious job at Goldman.
“It’s a tough switch to make, you have to really want it and you have to know what you’re getting into,” she told IJR. “It’s a completely different animal and yet similar in that it’s the content that’s driving things.”
She started her journalism career at CBS and then Bloomberg as a host discussing finance and the stock market. While much of her media career has focused on microeconomic news — as she regularly reported during the daytime when the stock market was still open — her new show focuses more on how macroeconomics influences politics — although, she tells me, major headlines affect her work in both positions.
Her husband — James A. Ben, an investment banker — encouraged her to make the switch. But her former boss at Goldman, Jason Kaplan, wasn’t as supportive. Kaplan ran sales for emerging markets when Regan entered a highly selective summer associate program at Goldman in 1999. At that time, Regan was a “quiet” and yet “aggressive” and hard-working associate whom “everyone” liked, according to him.
In the office, it was “unanimous,” Kaplan told IJR, that people wanted to hire her after her internship. While speaking with me, Kaplan described the moment when he realized his relatively quiet intern was shockingly talented in more ways than one.
“I just heard this beautiful voice,” Kaplan recalled. The two were at a conference in Connecticut, and Regan was singing the Beatles’ “Yesterday” with altered lyrics. “I said, ‘Uh-oh,'” Kaplan recounted. “That’s the first time I realized that she had talents in addition to scholastics and work ethic and everything else.”
But, as Regan told IJR, her talents were more suited for journalism. “I remember him yelling at me […] ‘What are you, crazy?!'” she recalled of Kaplan’s reaction to her decision to pursue a media career instead of banking. “He was so upset […] that I wanted to go off and do this television news thing.”
Years later, when Kaplan saw her hosting Bloomberg’s election night coverage in 2012, he reached out to admit he was wrong — she was “so graceful and so poised and so eloquent” as a journalist, he said.
While this could be a piece about how Regan is a female anchor on a business network — an impressive feat on its own — Regan can’t be put in a box. She’s written about her experience as a working mom, but when asked about her reporting as a female in her industry during the #MeToo movement, she told IJR: “First of all, I’m me.”
One gets the idea that she doesn’t want to talk about herself in the sense that she’s making groundbreaking strides in her industry. As IJR previously noted, Regan, a self-described independent, revealed her distaste for identity politics when she chastised reporter April Ryan, who had complained that Trump treated her differently because she was black.
No, #AprilRyan. @POTUS did not tell you to "sit down" because of your race and gender. He's an EQUAL opportunist when it comes to putting out-of-line journalists in their place. #TrishRegan #TrishIntel pic.twitter.com/mOQHKwyj13
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) November 9, 2018
While Regan identifies as a “proud, self-described feminist,” she lamented “the left[‘s]” insularity and demand for conformity in opinions on things like regulation and taxes.
“They’re dictating the terms,” Regan said when asked about pressure to talk about particular issues affecting women. “To me, feminism is about equality of women, period.”
“Everyone I know who has interviewed with her likes her,” Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor, who has appeared many times on her show, told IJR. “She’s nice and asks good questions but still has room to laugh and enjoy it.”
When asked about the impression she wants to give her audience, Regan says, “I want them to know me.” It’s that authenticity that often pops up when she’s talking with guests on her show.
She says none of her interview questions — even in the bombshell interview she scored with President Donald Trump — are scripted.
“The minute you start scripting questions, you lose the ability to listen,” she explained.
IJR sat down for her show and watched as she talked her way through an interview with former White House aide and vocal Trump supporter Sebastian Gorka. Rather than sounding like she was reading from a script, her questions came off like she was brainstorming and wanted the audience to be a part of that process. As she squinted her eyes and struggled slightly to get her initial words out, it was almost as if one could sense the neurons firing as she conjured words for the question she really wanted to ask.
Wearing shiny silver stiletto heels, Regan sipped her Diet Coke in a coffee mug between segments and periodically laughed with the crewmember in her ear. When IJR checked to see if the Gorka interview was ad-libbed, she confirmed that it was. If everything was scripted, she tells me, she would get “bored.” She has a basic outline for the show and fills in the blanks with her own narration; that includes when she sends viewers off to a commercial break after segments.
Perhaps her biggest public relations snafu came when she tried to discredit Danish socialism by seemingly comparing it to Venezuela.
“Denmark, like Venezuela, has stripped people of their opportunities,” she said on her show at the time.
Watch the video below:
Her comments quickly caught the attention of the American media, as well as the Danish prime minister, who publicly rebuked Regan’s portrayal of the nation as one where excessive intervention dissuaded citizens from working.
When asked if she had any regrets about that incident, she said, “Only […] that somehow it was misinterpreted to think that I was somehow saying that Venezuela and Denmark were the same exact thing.”
Describing herself as a “red-blooded American capitalist,” Regan says that socialism is generally “not the way” and that free markets are the best path for achieving economic well-being.
Regan seemed most excited about capitalism’s emphasis on opportunity and the “American dream.” That’s partly because her grandmother grew up on welfare and worked as a waitress to support her family as a single mother. After leaving her working-class household in Manchester, Regan’s mother went on to provide an example for her daughter, working as a journalist for the New Hampshire section of The Boston Globe.
On the day IJR observed her in the studio, Regan had come to work with her son, who could be heard shouting cheerfully from behind the set during the commercial break.
Regan’s son, Jamie, was about to lose his first tooth — something he was telling everyone about and treated like a headline story, according to her. Laughing, she says he should have already lost the tooth given that he’s 6 years old.
Jamie, she told IJR earlier, goes to school for a half day on Wednesdays, as he’s still in kindergarten for the year — only a short window of time that Regan wanted to leverage given her busy schedule at work.
“I’m like, ‘OK, this half-day thing is only going to last another year,’ and it’s just hard because I don’t see him now,” she said. “You know, [we] get up and get breakfast, but I don’t see him really until Saturday and Sunday.”
Regan has expressed remorse for not spending more time with Jamie just after his birth even though her employers offered normal maternity leave.
“This is time that mattered. Time I’ll never get back,” she wrote in March.
Now, she takes at least one of her children — including twin daughters Alexandra and Elizabeth — when she travels for work. Regan similarly used to accompany her mother to work, which helped her develop an early passion for storytelling.
Watch their appearance on set with her:
Her family is a big part of her life, and she indicated her kids help augment the authentic connection she seeks to build with her viewers. During the interview, she remembered traveling with her daughter to North Carolina where some people approached her and asked where her other two children were.
An experience like that, she says, “tells me that I am able to break through in a way that is meaningful.”