New Jersey Monthly: What was it like growing up in Park Ridge?
Stephanie Ruhle: It’s a really small town; I graduated with only about 70 kids. When you go to a school that small, you can be in theater, you can be in sports, you can be on the yearbook, you can write for the newspaper. It gives you a tremendous sense of confidence. I have stayed so, so close to my family. My parents still live there, my sister lives in Ridgewood and my grandparents lived in Fort Lee.
NJM: How did you make the transition from finance to TV news?
SR: I went into investment banking right out of Lehigh University, where I majored in international business. I met my husband at Credit Suisse my first day of work. I was always interested in the media and almost left banking to go to journalism school. After the financial crisis, things changed in banking; the country didn’t really trust the industry. I thought, If I’m going to be away from my young kids, I have to love what I’m doing. I was introduced to an executive at Bloomberg. She said, ‘I saw you give a speech and I think you’d be a good anchor.’ That was six years ago. I stayed at Bloomberg for five years.
NJM: MSNBC’s nightly anchors are openly progressive. What’s the perspective of your shows?
SR: I think everyone—no matter their race, their age, their sex, their financial status—wants to be happy. To be happy, you have to be financially secure, socially free and physically safe. I try to come at my shows and the content we cover from that perspective. I don’t have any political ideals that I’m tied to.
NJM: What challenges have you found covering Donald Trump?
SR: President Trump is inconsistent and—I don’t say this with any insult or malice—he lies consistently. Fact-checking him is a huge undertaking…. The important thing is to hold President Trump accountable.
NJM: What’s behind your advocacy for women and girls?
SR: From a young age, I decided that I wanted to make my own money. Financial freedom just gives you a lot more options. I scratch my head at the fact that more than 50 percent of college graduates are women, and you still have more CEOs named John and David than women CEOs.
NJM: Three kids, three shows. How much sleep do you get?
SR: Not enough. There are many Fridays when my children witness me falling asleep at the dinner table. I’ve got a whiteboard in my house, and I try to maximize the time I have with my kids, my husband and at work. That sounds overly efficient and not spontaneous. But one of the good parts about maximizing your time is you don’t waste any of it. In the summer, we live on Long Beach Island, and I make the commute to New York most days. That’s brutal. But there’s something amazing and old-fashioned about LBI. My kids can get on their bikes and just go.
NJM: You’ve worked on documentaries on Haiti and on sharks and ocean conservation. Why are these stories important?
SR: Haiti’s an hour-and-a-half boat ride from Miami, and it does need our help. Places like that, that aren’t in the big headlines, deserve a spotlight. And I love the ocean… I want to protect it. Not because of any political ideology, but because it’s beautiful. I grew up swimming at the Jersey Shore, and I want to make sure my kids do, too.