INTERVIEW: Bret Baier of Fox News on quarantining and election night plans

Bret Baier will be at the Fox News election night desk again on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo Credit: Fox News
Bret Baier will be at the Fox News election night desk again on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo Credit: Fox News

Credit: ALEXANDER DRAGO

Credit: ALEXANDER DRAGO

Baier started his Fox News career in Atlanta in 1998.

Fox News evening anchor Bret Baier was a reporter during the 2000 Florida recount and has manned the election desk five previous times.

But even with all that experience, he said he’s steeling himself for a long, potentially uncertain election night in a week.

“We’re ready no matter what happens,” said Baier, who started his Fox News career in the Atlanta bureau in 1998. He has plans to start official election night coverage during his usual 6 p.m. slot and will stay with co-host Martha MacCallum until 3 a.m. if necessary.

He spoke to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from his home studio Monday because he and MacCallum had flown from New York to Nashville for the presidential debate last week on the same plane as someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. The New York Times broke the story.

Baier on Monday said he is quarantining out of an abundance of caution. He said he has tested negative for the virus three times since then but will continue to be tested for the rest of the week. “It was a bit of a shock,” he said, given how many times he was also tested before and during his time in Nashville.

As long as all goes well, he said he and MacCallum will be anchoring next Tuesday on election night from Studio F at Fox News headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

“We’ve added a few more bells and whistles with a new graphics package,” Baier said. “We have a new way to monitor the chances a candidate has to win in real time based on the data coming in. And we have our own version of exit polls. Our decision desk feels really comfortable they’ll have a lot at their fingertips to make calls based on what’s happening."

Baier said he enjoys this time of year. “This is like our Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s nonstop as the campaigns reach their crescendo. The Biden campaign is playing it much differently with COVID-19 being a big part of their pitch. He’s also visiting states Democrats hadn’t played in like Georgia and Arizona in an effort to expand the map. The Trump team is working to rally voters in traditional places like Florida and Pennsylvania.”

He said November could be a repeat of 2000 with potential protracted legal battles in multiple states if it’s close.

Baier always anticipates a long election night, and Fox News provides a nice spread of food. He said he usually gravitates toward “brain food” proteins like salmon and steak plus a little caffeine while avoiding too many carbs that could drag him down. He also wears a special election night tie that features both red and blue.

He said he has not read Brian Stelter’s book about Fox News, “Hoax,” in which Stelter interviewed Fox News employees and concluded that the opinion hosts, such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, now run the show with Roger Ailes no longer in charge. This, Stelter wrote, has weakened the news division and helped drive Shepard Smith out the door.

“We’ve been through a lot over the years,” Baier acknowledged. “It’s actually been a good team. The opinion folks do their stuff. We do our stuff. We’re all under one umbrella. It’s a challenging time now. We’re figuring out how to make it work. I stay on the positive side. I wish Shep a lot of success in his new venture [an evening news show on CNBC.] I haven’t talked to him recently. Overall, I keep it at 30,000 feet. We got a big job and that’s what I’m focused on.”

Baier in 2014 wrote a book, “Special Heart,” about his son Paul’s heart issues and how it impacted the family. Paul is now thriving at age 13 but needs another major surgery in December. “It’s a big procedure, but hopefully, it’s his last one,” Baier said.

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