Fox News chief Washington correspondent and news anchor Mike Emanuel will be inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Mike Emanuel’s cell phone can ring any time night or day with an urgent request—much as it did late on Sunday, May 1, 2011.

“I was at home watching a hockey game when I got the call saying President Obama was going to speak at 11 o’clock that night—Bin Laden had been killed,” Emanuel RC’90 says. “I ran upstairs and put my suit back on. My wife asked, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I’m going to the White House—breaking news.’”

Mike Emanuel at Fox News anchor desk

Emanuel, who holds a bachelor’s degree in communication, serves as the chief Washington correspondent and anchors the news roundup “FOX News Live” from the network’s Capitol Hill studio. Interviews he conducted on a recent Sunday afternoon edition of the show ranged from Lithuania’s foreign minister about the war in Ukraine to a top lawyer about the legal troubles facing former President Donald Trump, as well as reporting updates on a dozen other breaking stories. The live show on Sunday reaches an average of one million viewers.

Mike Emanuel asking President Obama a questions at a press conference in 2010
Emanuel asking President Obama a question at a 2010 press conference.

Coming up on 25 years in Washington with Fox News, which has included extensive coverage of the White House, Emanuel has had a front row seat to presidential administrations through almost a quarter century of American history.

“There is nothing like being at a presidential news conference when you’re there with 100 other reporters and you’re not sure if you are going to get a question or not—and then you hear the president of the United States say, ‘Mike Emanuel, Fox News,’ and you are handed the microphone and the news world is watching you.” 

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway with Mike Emanuel of Fox News
Emanuel and Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway speaking with students. 

Emanuel, who graduated in 1990 with a degree in communications and a minor in religion, is an avid Rutgers supporter and has stayed connected with the university, often visiting campus to speak with classes. In October, he sat down with Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway for his Byrne Seminar "Citizenship, Institutions, and the Public.” 

Emanuel will be inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni on April 25. 

A Rutgers Start

Emanuel grew up in Westfield, New Jersey, half an hour from New Brunswick. Not far from home, but far enough, he jokes, that his parents were not going “to be dropping in to see what I was up to. They were going to give me the space to have the college experience.”

For one thing, his parents were busy. His father was a civil engineer and his mother worked in finance. Both did the train commute to New York City. Both also held Rutgers in high regard, encouraging him to attend. In an indirect way, they also helped send him on his future career path.

Emanuel admired how hard his parents worked, but he did not find what they did for a living especially interesting. They were, however, news junkies and so three newspapers arrived in the family driveway every day. As a youngster, he ate his morning Cheerios while listening to WCBS Newsradio. Not surprisingly, he wrote for his high school paper.

Mike Emanuel visiting Rutgers student radio
In March, Emanuel visited the Rutgers student radio station where he got his start. 

Emanuel found his niche in his first week as a 17-year-old freshman. He was reading The Daily Targum, the Rutgers student newspaper, and saw an ad for WRSU, the school's radio station. “I folded the paper down and said, ‘You mean I could be on the radio here? How cool is that?’ I jumped on it, and it started a love affair with broadcasting.” 

Not long afterward, his mother and father heard some of the first ballgames he did for WRSU. “It was a first big deal for them to hear their shy kid on the radio, live, on the air, doing what he loves.”


Doing what he loves at Rutgers led him to take a job in the Midland-Odessa, Texas, market, where everyone in the newsroom called him “Jersey.” Assignments included covering the annual Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Texas, an ostrich festival, and rodeos. He says he used those experiences as opportunities to work on the craft of journalism. 

After other TV news stops in Texas at Waco and Austin, Emanuel landed what he thought was his big break—a major-market TV reporting gig in Los Angeles. Inundated with deadly car crashes, fires, and violent crime, it was not the kind of work he aspired to. 

Two coincidences changed the trajectory of his career. The first was the start-up of Fox News in 1996. The second was his experience covering Texas when George W. Bush was owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. The younger Bush had become governor shortly before Fox launched and the budding network was looking for someone to cover Texas politics. Emanuel fit the bill and got a ticket back to the Lone Star State in 1997 to report for Fox. When Bush won the 2000 presidential election, Fox asked Emanuel to cover politics in Washington and eventually named him White House correspondent. 

‘Old School’

Mike Emanuel, second from left, with reporters in the Oval Office with President Bush
Emanuel, second from left, in the Oval Office with President Bush

In a career full of remarkable moments, Emanuel counts covering President Bush’s trip to the Vatican in 2007 to meet with Pope Benedict XVI as a personal highlight. A visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah the following year, including a helicopter flight to Bethlehem, remains another favorite moment.

Two events from his Washington years remain vivid for him. The first is 9/11, where from the Fox offices, he could see the smoke rising from the Pentagon—where he later did live reports that afternoon near the gaping hole in Department of Defense building. The second is January 6, which he initially witnessed unfolding from the Capitol Rotunda before being urged to evacuate to the Russell Senate Office Building.

“I saw people climbing the front face of the Capitol, going in through the windows, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Emanuel says. “I’ve been to Pakistan, I’ve been to Afghanistan, I’ve been to Iraq. I was horrified by it. I didn’t feel like I was in danger. I felt like I’d been in more dangerous places, but I felt for the Capitol police—what are you supposed to do? Shoot a fellow American coming in through a window?”

Although Fox is home to several high-profile politically conservative hosts, Emanuel’s goal is to report the news without a political slant. He says he focuses on “presenting a variety of perspectives on an issue and doing it in a fair way.”

Being described on social media as an “old school” journalist who simply reports the facts is something he embraces. “I take that as a huge professional compliment because they frequently say, ‘I have no idea how you vote. You just tell me the facts. You just tell me the news.’ That's my mission.”

Mike Emanuel with Rutgers football helmet

In his third decade of reporting on the national stage, Emanuel fondly recalls the start his alma mater gave him. “Rutgers was the launchpad of my dreams,” he says. “I realized there were virtually limitless possibilities at Rutgers University. Whatever your passion, whatever your interest, you could find a club, some kind of extracurricular activity, an area of study to meet your needs. It opened up the world to me.”

Emanuel is one of five new inductees who will be formally enshrined in the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni in a ceremony starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren, New Jersey. For more information, visit the Hall of Distinguished Alumni page.

Nominator’s Remarks

Ron Garutti
Ronald Garutti RC'67

"First inspired during his formative years at WRSU and continuing to his position today at the highest levels of his profession, Mike Emanuel has had two constant passions: broadcast journalism and Rutgers. Even while the demands of a distinguished career recognized for its objectivity in reporting the news, he always finds time for his alma mater, frequently mentoring students on the value of a Rutgers education and challenging them to be relentless in pursuit of their career goals. Mike embodies the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni hallmarks of outstanding professional accomplishment and deep personal pride in being a Rutgers graduate.”—Ronald Garutti RC’67, 2020 inductee into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni



WE ARE YOU is an ongoing series of stories about the people who embody Rutgers University’s unwavering commitment to academic excellence, building community, and the common good.


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