FOX News’ Lea Gabrielle, correspondent for “Shepard Smith Reporting,” was featured in the December 2014 issue of Northern Virginia Magazine.
In the piece, Gabrielle reflects on her career in the military and journalism, as well as her roots in the DC-area. The Alexandria, VA native (and total babe) is a former intelligence operations officer and U.S. Navy fighter pilot of 12 years. Gabrielle, who previously worked for NBC News in Washington, is celebrating her one year anniversary with FOX News Channel.
Below is Bailey Lucero-Carter’s Q&A with Gabrielle from this month’s edition of Northern Virginia Magazine. Enjoy!
What can you say about your first year with FOX News?
It’s given me the opportunity to bring my experience in the military into some of the stories that we’re telling, which is so important. A big part of the reason I left the military to go into journalism is [to] bring the perspective of those who had served [and bring] that perspective to the news.
How are you able to utilize your past experiences as a fighter pilot?
[FOX has] used my expertise when there were aviation stories. For example, there was one where landing gear wouldn’t come down on an aircraft; we were covering it live as the plane had to do a belly-up landing in San Antonio. Of course, the big one lately has been the air strike in Iraq and in Syria, where I can bring in my experience as a former F-18 pilot who has flown that type of mission to assist in helping people better understand why we’re doing what we’re doing and how it works behind the scenes.
How has the industry treated you as a female reporter?
It’s been great. I really don’t see a difference being a female reporter. But when you’ve been in the military, you’ve gone to a naval academy and you’ve served in the military for a long time, it doesn’t really faze you, the differences. Normal society seems actually pretty gentle compared to being a woman in the military.
What was it like being a woman in the military?
I grew a lot from my experience and I feel like I got to do a lot of things that very few women have the opportunity to do, including being a fighter pilot. I deployed with a field team in Afghanistan. I was the only woman who was with them in the location that we were [in]. That was an incredibly unique and special experience; getting to see some of the absolute best that we have in our military at work, conducting their operations and being able to be a part of it and being able to help them was just extremely rewarding.
How has your Northern Virginia upbringing influenced your career path?
I was brought up in a very patriotic family right there in the center of our country’s history. Being 15 miles south of Washington D.C., being close to the Capitol, being close to the Pentagon, I was raised to be paying attention to what was going on in our government and to understand the importance of the different government agencies, but I was also raised around people who are leaders in our country. [I] grew up almost right next door to General Krulak, who was one of the Commandants of the Marine Corps. I went to school with kids whose parents were congressmen and senators and admirals and generals.