Mike Allen at Politico has an enjoyable profile of Fox News anchor Bret Baier, highlighting Baier’s reputation for conducting thorough and fair interviews regardless of the subject’s partisan affiliation. It’s no surprise that early in the interview with Allen, Baier mentions his respect for the late Tim Russert, who was both a gentleman to his subjects and a tough and well-prepared interviewer.
Baier has also seemingly taken up the mantle of his predecessor, Brit Hume. Russert and Hume–two solid choices for a news anchor to model his work ethic and style after. Yet it also reveals one of the advantages Fox—which routinely humiliates its liberal counterparts CNN and MSNBC in the competition for ratings—has in the great cable news competition. No one at Fox’s rivals possesses the combination of talent and evenhandedness that Baier has.
It is what inspired Jon Stewart’s first question to Baier when the latter appeared on “The Daily Show” in March:
I feel like over at Fox you’re the guy they use, whenever you start to criticize them about any of their programming, they’re like “Are you saying Bret Baier’s not a good guy? Are you saying Bret Baier’s not a good journalist?” You’re like the human shield. They get you, and they bring you out. Is that—do you feel that at Fox?
This is Jon Stewart happily confirming that Baier’s credibility and professionalism are unimpeachable. It is also a stern rebuke to Fox’s competitors, who have tried to pull away viewers by increasing the volume inside their steadfastly liberal echo chambers. Sometimes, it helps to be the best at what you do. Viewers trusted Russert then, and they trust Baier now. And that trust has been earned.