Bret Baier Takes the Reins on Fox News' Inaugural Extravaganza
Today's cuppa: Stash Christmas Morning tea (renamed for today, MLK Morning tea)
Since TV is going ga-ga over tomorrow's Inauguration Day coverage, it's a story that just can't be ignored.
America is getting a new administration in the White House, and not long ago, Fox News named Bret Baier, former chief White House correspondent, as the new anchor for its flagship program, "Special Report," succeeding Brit Hume, who now serves as a political analyst.
Baier's first big assignment is to be the anchor for the cable newser's Inauguration coverage. He was kind enough to carve out a bit of time from the preparations to answer a few email questions about the biggest political Tuesday since Nov. 4.
Q: With this huge and historic inauguration, you've been tossed in at the deep end in terms of anchoring coverage. Couldn't you have talked Brit Hume into staying on a bit longer? But seriously, what's your chief concern at this moment about adequately providing information and perspective on the event?
A: Well, fortunately, Brit will be a big part of our coverage -- so I look at it as a tremendous opportunity to be "in the deep end" with him and Chris Wallace -- and "value added" for the viewer. Fox has all hands on deck for the event, and we hope that with our superior political reporting and analysis, we can cover it better than any other network.
Q: What's the most important thing you learned from Hume?
A: Sometimes less is more. Sometimes it's better just to shut up and let the moment be absorbed by the viewer. The natural inclination for anchors and correspondents is to say all you know about the moment, to try to come up with a lot of beautiful words to describe the moment (it IS, after all, our job). However, Brit would always say to me, "Make sure you let it breathe." And on the big events, he did. I hope to, too.
Q: Other than Hume, who are the people that influenced your view of news coverage most?
A: Brit has been my mentor, and I have learned the most from him over my time at Fox. Besides Brit, years ago, as a viewer and young reporter, I looked to the late Peter Jennings as an example of a smooth, unflappable anchor ... who could handle whatever was thrown at him.
But to be honest with you, I have also learned a lot from Shepard Smith, whom, I believe, right now, is the best at live television, handling live events and spot news, by far.
(HCTV: BTW, Smith also appears briefly as a baby news reporter in one of my all-time favorite disaster movies, "Volcano.")
Q: With such a massive event, there are inevitable security concerns. What do you see as the main challenges facing security forces?
A: The number of people -- if, as expected, the range is from 2 million to 3 million people -- just the sheer number of bodies will be tough to patrol, secure and maneuver. I think the overall number could be fewer than that by Tuesday...but there will be a ton of security personnel all over the city.
Q: What are your thoughts about staging a large event that will inevitably cost millions in public funds during the current economic crisis?
A: The passing of the torch from one President to another is uniquely American. It's worth the cost, in my opinion -- as long as it's not excessive. We, as a country, waste a lot of money on a lot of things. Celebrating our democracy every four years is worth the expenditure, to me.
Q: Which of your personal qualities or experience do you think help you most as a newsman? Which create the most challenges?
A: I am very curious (that helps). I have always asked a lot of questions about just about everything (my Mom says it started with one word, "Why?"). My friends tell me I am a pretty "calm guy" or "chill" -- I think that helps when things are nuts. One challenge -- if I find something really funny, it's pretty tough for me to stop laughing...and that could be a problem.
Q: In "Broadcast News," movie fans saw some of the nuts-and-bolts of TV news reporting, such as sitting on your coattails so that the jacket doesn't ride up. Do you have any such tips and tricks you're willing to share?
A: I drink lemon tea on set -- actually, it's "Lemon Lift," they tell me. It helps fight off a hoarse voice. I also sit on my coattails, and the crew makes fun of me for adjusting my tie continually during breaks. I really try to center the dimple -- sometimes it works, sometimes it just doesn't. But I do it anyway.
Q: What is/are the thing(s) that you absolutely DON'T want to see during Fox News' inauguration coverage?
A: Too much talking over important moments. As I said earlier, I hope everyone adheres to Brit's advice, "Let it breathe."
Q: Picked a coat, shirt and tie combination yet?
A: Nope...my wife, Amy, is the fashion consultant every morning. I sure she has been thinking about Tuesday's outfit, but I haven't.