Stirewalt to anchor NewsNation Sunday show

WHEELING — A national news reporter and Wheeling native who started his career in the newsroom of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register will now carve out his spot on the Sunday news show landscape.

Stirewalt will anchor the new NewsNation show “The Hill Sunday,” which will air on NewsNation and CW affiliates beginning this coming Sunday.

What Stirewalt believes he brings to the table for television audiences is what he has carried with him from his start at the Intelligencer – a sense of accountability.

“There is a special kind of accountability that comes from local coverage,” described Stirewalt. “If you make a mistake or get it wrong, you’ll hear about it or your parents will hear about it at the grocery store. There’s a real accountability that comes from that.”

Stirewalt’s journalism career began in his hometown of Wheeling as a 17-year-old reporting on baseball scores during a summer internship for the paper. With every step he took in the journalism field from that point forward, Stirewalt found his local roots the key to staying “accountable, honest and accurate” in his reporting.

“When I left Wheeling to become the politics editor at the Charleston Daily Mail, I thought I was in the big time now,” recalled Stirewalt. “Then I got there and realized the same people who were in state government were not different from the people in the local government in Wheeling. There’s the presence of public corruption and civic-minded good servants, basically in the same proportions. They might have nicer lapel pins, but it’s the same.”

This idea rang true again for Stirewalt when he began to work as a reporter in Washington, DC. He found the congressmen and congresswomen he covered not too dissimilar from people he met as a 17-year-old reporting on American Legion Baseball.

“Getting my start at my hometown newspaper was beneficial because moving from there to Charleston, I could take things in stride,” noted Stirewalt. “Going from my hometown paper to then being a political editor at the Charleston Daily Mail and from there to the State Journal and also doing some local TV, I did not know what I was getting prepared. As it turns out, I don’t think I would be nearly as good at what I do if I had not been rooted in local, accountable, honest and accurate reporting.”

Stirewalt strives to foster accountability in his work in digital media as well. During his time as the former political editor for the FOX News Channel during the 2020 presidential election, Stirewalt was a member of the network’s decision desk team. He was the first to call Arizona for Joe Biden during the 2020 election, which was a key state either he or Trump needed to prevail. That call, he said, cost him his job at FOX News, which the network has disputed.

He joined NewsNation as its political editor in May 2022. In that role, Stirewalt noted a “humility” can be found in the awareness that “you might not have all the answers.”

“What we see in the news, including a lot of TV news, is a lack of humility,” described Stirewalt. “People believe they have the right answer, know what the wrong answer is and that their job is to proselytize and carry their truth forward. I don’t think that’s my job.”

For Stirewalt, his duty as a news anchor is centered on “being skeptical but not cynical.” What he has found missing in television reporting, from his perspective as a written-word journalist, is “good-faith, difficult questioning.”

“In TV news there’s a lot of bad-faith, hard questioning,” noted Stirewalt. “An interviewer will ask the interviewee, ‘Can you admit you’re the worst?’ The interviewee just responds, ‘Well, you’re the worst, I’m not the worst.’

“That doesn’t shed any light on anything,” continued Stirewalt. “All it does is help both the interviewer and the interviewee get what they want click-wise and attention-wise out of the interaction.”

For Stirewalt, avoiding bad-faith questioning means dropping the assumptions one has of interviewees to foster genuine conversations from their perspective.

“I try to work with the assumption that people generally mean the things that they say, and that they’re not adopting positions out of cruelty or insincerity,” he described. “Now, I’m frequently proved wrong, but I think you have to start from the perspective of taking people at their word until they prove you otherwise.”

As someone who has observed burnout amongst Americans who are “grossed out and exhausted by the news,” Stirewalt wants to provide coverage for those tired of partisanship in political coverage and what he considers “hacky” news.

“The reason people tune out and get fed up with the news is that it’s frankly too much,” said Stirewalt. “I respect people’s time, and I feel that by spending one hour a week watching my show they’ll be able to say, ‘I know something more about how my country is working isn’t working. I understand more about ideas that are shaping the conversation and some of the people who are shaping it.'”


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