Bret Baier: What It's Like To Work As A Fox News Anchor

Host Bret Baier reports
Every night at 6 p.m., smooth as a well-oiled clockwork, Fox's Special Report goes on the air. Host Bret Baier reports the major events of the day, analyzes the latest political stories and also leads a panel of pundits and political reporters who discuss their broader significance. Like most televised news shows, it appears to viewers to be a seamless process, a graceful admixture of news and commentary.

But what is it like on the other side of the cameras?

Well, kind of messy. "Sometimes it can get really heated and passionate," Baier, who has been hosting the show since 2009, said in a phone interview with AOL Jobs. "Sometimes I rib the panelists on the air, tell them 'let's calm it down, and step back a bit.'"

A confrontational format
From health care to the debt ceiling, sequestration to the attack on Bengazi, Special Report covers the most controversial news stories of the day. Baier says the biggest challenge often is time. "A big part of the show was learning to corral the horses," Baier says, joking he could easily fill a two-hour show. "My panelists already have a perspective in mind, on a lot of topics, before the conversation begins. When we start, they're off!"

This balance between argument and respect is part of the show -- and dates back to its original host and creator, Brit Hume. Succeeding him was "daunting," Baier recalls. "Brit's an icon, and he built the show from scratch. For the first few weeks, I was definitely looking at the graphic to make sure it still said 'With Bret Baier.'" Soon, however, the show truly became Baier's, moving from Hume's somewhat professorial rhythms to a faster-paced, more confrontational format.


Fox news anchor Bret Baier in a production meeting with his staff. (Charles Ommanney, Getty Images)

Given that Special Report is a Fox program, it's not surprising that some media analysts see the show as tilting to the right. What is surprising, however, is the degree to which Baier's panel tends to include moderate and even left-of-center journalists. Regular contributors include Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers and Washington Post reporters Karen Tumulty and Charles Lane. And, while -- as Baier notes -- discussions can sometimes get "heated," the collegiality of the panel has paid off for the show: Last month Special Report was the third highest rated cable news program, according to Newser.

A professional highlight: An interview with Obama
After four years of constant -- and sometimes tumultuous -- news coverage, it only takes Baier an instant to identify the most exciting moment as an anchor. In 2010, three days before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act went to a vote, Baier interviewed President Obama. "At the time, lots of people in Washington didn't know what was in the bill," Baier recalls, then laughs. "To be honest, I think a lot of people in D.C. still don't! There was real confusion about what was going to happen."

Those confusing moments -- the time between when a story breaks and when everybody understands it -- are among Baier's favorites. This was a big part of the excitement of covering the 2010 and 2012 elections, when the future of the country was up in the air. "There's nothing like seeing all the votes come in, following the elections in real time, and bringing that breaking story to the country," he recalls. The greatest pleasure, for him, lies in watching history unfold. "For a political junkie, that's a big deal."

At odds with the Democratic administration
Because of Fox News Network's well-known conservative reputation, Baier has found himself in the center of political battles with the Obama White House. In 2009, after much squabbling between Fox and the White House, there was speculation that the White House might even withdraw the network's press credentials. Baier's Fox News report on the dustup was closely watched by White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Psaki, who sent out an e-mail stating that "brett baier just did a stupid piece on it - but he is a lunatic."

Two years later, the e-mail was publicly released by a conservative watchdog group, with some back pedaling from the White House. But Baier emphasizes that it actually had a happy ending. "That was a bad experience that led to a good relationship," he stresses. "A lot of things are said in D.C., but I've found that if people sit down to talk, you can work through almost anything. In most cases, these problems are a simple misunderstanding. Relationships are important in Washington -- and they also can help get a lot of news."

Time for the family
Of course, as with any other high-powered job, relationships are often difficult to juggle. And, as the married father of two children, Baier says, "It's taken me a while to learn how to shut off the iPhone, hang up my jacket and be with my family. A good friend of mine, the late ABC Pentagon correspondent Jack McWethy, used to say that if you can learn to hang up your trench coat and leave your work with it on the rung by the front door, that's ideal."

As for whether or not he's learned to thread that needle, Baier notes that it's a difficult process. "I am trying to do that more and more every day," he laughs.

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en4j

must be a great job, you know, telling the american people what the other news staions don't have the guts to report

February 11 2013 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Drew

I could sure sit next to Megan Kelly.....

February 11 2013 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wongtpa

At lease Fox is not an Obama stooge network!

February 11 2013 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wongtpa's comment
mrshohn

Faux is a propaganda machine owned by a non-American billionaire. And you are one of the suckers it's created for.

February 11 2013 at 7:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dp6977

I read a SCRIPT and then I LIE. Then I lie some more. Then I use BUZZWORDS to keep people confused and scared of their own country.

YEP THAT'S WHAT IT'S LIKE......................ALL DAY LONG

February 11 2013 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jrtott

I taught Fox news was a comedy show

February 11 2013 at 12:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jrtott's comment
vandation

You mean you "thought" ? Doubtful.

February 11 2013 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jabaileydc

One thing they'll need is to develop THICK SKIN from being called stupid! Anything about FOX is STUPID!

February 11 2013 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
royjoneswolf62

It's easy, tell lots of lies and never apoligize when proved wrong! Very simple.

February 11 2013 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DANIEL

If you don\'t like Fox News or MSNBC, don\'t watch them!

February 11 2013 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DANIEL's comment
royjoneswolf62

I don't. I read the newspaper and try not to watch TV newscasts. They all don't tell the albsolute truth. They all shade the facts to fit their outlook on the story. They now make news, not report it!

February 11 2013 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to royjoneswolf62's comment
dgosbee

Of course, that's how you formed your opinion that the lie and don't apologize when proved wrong. If you never watched them how would you know?

February 11 2013 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
donwords

Do they actually have to go to "stupid school" in order to be an anchor for Fox, or does just any old fool qualify?

February 11 2013 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to donwords's comment
mcgowann

Maybe you should research the qualifications of those working at Fox. You'll find they are highly educated and qualified. Stupid is being an Obama bobble head and agreeing with everything he says even though it's obvious that he doesn't understand economics.

February 11 2013 at 12:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
harolddundee

Faux news, the bimbo network.

February 11 2013 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to harolddundee's comment
mcgowann

Before you call them "bimbo", shouldn't you check their qualifications. Google these women and you'll find that they are lawyers, judges, economist and very highly educated. You probably are one of those archaic jerks who think an attractive woman can't possibly be smart, too. Wrong! Thats sexist. I thought liberals were against sexism.

February 11 2013 at 12:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mcgowann's comment
dgosbee

They are only against sexism when it is to their advantage or when they can twist the truth to make a conservative look bad.

February 11 2013 at 12:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

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