This was posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Atlanta's first Fox News bureau chief Bret Baier is now one of the most popular anchors on the network, holding fort at the 6 p.m. hour the past seven years.
Tonight, he will co-anchor with Megyn Kelly the third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from 6 p.m. to midnight. (The debate itself starts at 9.)
"This is really a big moment," Baier said Monday, already in Las Vegas's MGM prepping for the big day. "Clearly, Clinton is leading. There's a sense this is the moment for Trump if he's going to turn things around the final 20 days. It's going to be exciting to see which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will show up in the theater. Its a big thrill for us to have Chris Wallace as the first Fox News anchor to big given the nod to moderate a presidential debate. He's going to make us proud.
Indeed, Baier covered for his colleague on Sunday morning while Wallace was knee deep in prep work.
Fox News is set to have its best year ever in terms of ratings since its debut 20 years ago. The network is trying to move on from a rather tense summer after Gretchen Carlson's allegations of sexual harassment led to president Roger Ailes' sudden and rather ignominious departure from the network he built and shaped.
"No doubt it was a dark time for the network," Baier said, "a dark time for a lot of people. It should not have happened period."
He said he focused on his show during a very tense time. "I tell my staff it was like drinking from a fire hose. We put our heads down and kept working. As much turmoil was going on behind the scenes, you couldn't tell at all on the air. With current leadership. we are looking for more good things to come."
Baier has been with the network for 18 years, opening the Fox News Atlanta bureau in 1998 out of a Buckhead apartment with a cel phone and a fax machine. He then covered the White House and Pentagon before coming to the anchor desk in 2009. "I'm very happy," he said. "I always wanted to cover politics."
He is a busy man. He just finished a book "Three Days in January," which comes out early next year and is focused on the transition from Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency in 1961 to that of John F. Kennedy. ("For my generation and younger, sometimes history seems to start with Kennedy. It's an interesting way to look back at the 34th president.")
Baier is hosting a bonus weekly political show on Sundays until Election Day. And he continues to put together hour-long specials on different topics. (He has done 46 so far by his own counting.)
The latest will air later this month, focused on the future of the U.S. military.
Despite his passion for politics, he enjoys the occasional breaks.
"You realize how much you cherish those simple moments at home," he said. "The other day I was driving my two boys to school [Paul and Daniel]. They were talking video games and TV shows. I asked them questions. They got out of the school, saying, 'I love you Daddy!' I just sat there. That was amazing! No talk about politics! It really was kind of purifying."