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Bret Baier gets results.
On Aug. 23, 300 days after Trump last appeared on Baier’s Fox News show, Special Report, Baier made his pitch to the president for an interview. “President Trump, I assume you know you will be treated fairly here, and of course asked tough, but fair questions,” he said.
But that streak is slated to end soon: Baier said the White House reached out after his segment, and his team is working with the White House to pick a date for an interview with Trump. He’s confident the interview will finally occur — unless, of course, something happens, a possibility that can never be dismissed these days, in this news cycle.
“They’re trying to find a date that works, and we’re obviously amicable to whatever they come up with,” Baier said. “So hopefully it’s going to come together here in the next couple of weeks.”
Baier talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his coverage of the president, assessed the veracity of Trump’s critiques of the media and discussed how he thinks the president is doing, some seven and a half months into his unlikely presidency. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
You talked to the president several times during the campaign. At the time he was elected, did you expect it would be much easier to get an interview with President Trump?
I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, and obviously we’ve covered the good, the bad and the ugly of the administration. So, I think we’ve covered it fairly. And I think it depends on who they choose.
When members of Congress decline to come onto your show to discuss the latest administration tiff, such as the president’s comments about Charlottesville, are they honest about why they’re declining? Do they say that it’s just a logistics issue, or do they say it’s because they’re not interested in criticizing the president?
Yeah, no. They don’t say that. It’s understood that that is often the reason behind the logistics problem, or, “He’s not available, or she’s not available.” But, listen, we’ve never had a problem booking for our show. I think people look at the show as one that Democrats and Republicans and Independents watch — people in Washington tell me that. So we have all kinds of politicians who come on the show.
How do you think cable news, including your network, has done so far in these first seven and a half months of the administration? Do you think the form is uniquely suited to the fast pace at which things are happening these days?
I think that we’ve done a good job of reacting to what is a very volatile news cycle, on a number of different fronts — not just here in the U.S., but around the world. And that’s what cable news does: it reacts, it analyzes. But my show tries to, day to day, put it all into perspective. And, in one package — where somebody could watch one hour and feel like they have a sense of what’s happening in the U.S. and around the world.
Some news anchors, in this age of Trump, have decided to inject more opinion into the way they present and frame news stories. Is that something you’ve been grappling with?
So I take pride in being able to be someone who, at the end of a news story, someone says, “I don’t know what side he’s siding with.” I really want to be able to present it in a way where, and it sounds hokey, but the viewer decides. … How you phrase things, and how you intro pieces, and making sure that you cover things fairly, I think is important. And sometimes a lost art in our medium, and I think that sometimes hurts us.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week on The View today that an ideal news story is one that only includes facts, and, after reading it, a reader can’t tell what a reporter thinks on the matter. But I think journalists for the media outlets that she’s criticized in the past as not doing that — like The New York Times and The Washington Post — would say they are including only facts, not opinion.
Yeah, I know, but there has been, and I think even those reporters and various others, from various media operations, have sometimes gone over their skiis. And inserted some kind of line that clearly indicates where their sympathies lie. And I think if we can avoid that, that’s great. I mean, listen, I think a number of papers have been dealing with this. I think a number of channels have been trying to deal with this. I deal with 6-7 (p.m.). And that’s what I control. And at the end of my show, I want people to say, “That was a fair news cast,” whether you’re a Democrat, you are part of the resistance, or you are a Trump supporter.
Are there specific critiques of the media the president has made that you have found particularly offensive?
I don’t think it’s helpful. I don’t think it’s helpful for the relationship between the administration and the reporters. I don’t think it’s a great thing to say that journalists are “the enemy of the people.” I think it’s not right at all. And on those things, I stand with all my colleagues who have a real problem with it. But, that said, every administration has a problem with how the press treats them. This president just takes it public.
Do you think the president’s media commentary and criticisms will be a recurring, evergreen story over the next three and a half years of his presidency?
I think it will be. I’m sure the president will continue to bring it up. Journalists do not poll well. … So we’re an easy target. We’ve always been an easy target.
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