Q&A: Brit Hume
EmptyAfter 12 years at Fox News Channel and four decades in the news business, Washington managing editor Brit Hume will leave "Special Report" and daily journalism for a quieter life, spending time with his grandchildren and following his Christian faith (the anchor still will contribute to the network as a political analyst). Hume, 65, talked about the demands of the job and how his succession should be handled.
The Hollywood Reporter: You're at the top of your game at the top-rated cable news channel and nearing the end of the biggest presidential campaign in recent years. Why leave now?
Brit Hume: I think it's time. It's a good idea to go out when you're still doing OK rather than waiting until you're getting old and people stop listening to you. That's part of it. A big part of it is that I have a lot of other things that I want to do. To cite one example, I have a couple of grandchildren that I'm just crazy about. With the job I have now, I really can't go to their plays or games. There's a grandparents' event they have at school. I haven't been able to go. These anchor jobs at cable channels, if you care at all about the content of your program, they're demanding. To try to do a quality program is a lot of work.
THR: You've talked recently about how you've lost a lot of your enthusiasm for the job. How important is that in journalism?
Hume: I think it's the indispensible ingredient in TV news, and maybe in news in general. You see someone like Mike Wallace, who went on and on and on to a very advanced age, but he was fine because he never lost his zest for this stuff. The cycles or events didn't seem to tire him out. I feel all the time when I'm covering the news that I've seen this before. That's valuable because it may give you insight into how things are going to go or what they mean. But after awhile, it makes it less interesting. And that's a bad thing. That makes me less valuable, I think.
THR: You've been an integral part of Fox News since it started in 1996. Is it gratifying to see how far it's come?
Hume: I knew it would succeed, but I didn't know how long it would take. I certainly didn't know by early 2002 we'd be top-rated. I thought we'd claw our way into contention and be recognized as a well-watched and widely watched channel. Being No. 1 is gratifying, but after awhile it means you're playing defense. Now we're trying to make changes. In some ways, what we're now doing is harder. It's harder to keep a successful enterprise up to date and make the necessary adjustments to keep it there than it is to get it there.
THR: Who will replace you? Does "Special Report" stay on the air?
Hume: There's no final decision that has been made about that. I have urged that the show be kept intact with a new anchor. I believe the show is not about its host to the extent, for example, that "The O'Reilly Factor" is about Bill. The stories he likes, his preferences, his views, they're stamped all over the show. That's fine. We notice when I'm away, the ratings hold up fine. When Bill's away, the ratings don't hold up so well. That's part of what we were trying to create when we created this show, a show that's not about me.
THR: What other things would you like to do in retirement?
Hume: I certainly want to pursue my faith more ardently than I have done. I'm not claiming it's impossible to do when you work in this business. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died, I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me. If a person is a Christian and tries to face up to the implications of what you say you believe, it's a pretty big thing. If you do it part time, you're not really living it.
THR: Do you have any advice for your successor?
Hume: Keep an eye out for the stories that are being done one way by the media where there's a legitimate, alternative way to do it. There's a homogeneity and outlook in the media that provides an opportunity for someone who is willing to take another look.