As he rose through the journalism ranks, Fox News’ Bret Baier prided himself on out-hustling his competitors. But the last several years have presented the “Special Report” anchor with a heart-wrenching challenge mostly out of his control.
“I was asking a million questions. I was probably the most annoying father in the hospital,” Baier told TVNewser in an interview about his new book “Special Heart,” which chronicles his son Paul’s battle with congenital heart disease.
While political anchoring carries its own important responsibility, his son’s illness presented much higher-stakes. “The decision-making process is life or death,” he said, noting one important decision after Paul’s birth: wait a week for a top surgeon to return to America and operate, or go elsewhere. He and his wife Amy “thought about it, prayed about it, and came to the conclusion to wait.”
Throughout Paul’s three open-heart surgeries and seven angioplasties, Baier still had to smile for the camera and stay sharp while reporting both on the road and in studio. “I can’t say I was 100% focused on whatever the issue of the day was,” he says. Today, the balancing act between family and work remains. “The whole experience has given me perspective, and I try to balance more than perhaps I did before.”
And how did that perspective—about family and health—impact his reporting on the Affordable Care Act? “There’s a lot of questions on both sides. The one thing I can conclusively say is that there are amazing doctors and nurses doing amazing things around our country. We all should remember that.” For Baier, there’s one “family” he’ll never forget.
Baier says his boss, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, was there from the start. “It wasn’t just a call like he was checking off a list; he was really heartfelt and offered to do anything for me.” Baier also says his “Special Report” predecessor Brit Hume, who lost his son in 1998, was key to coping with the day-to-day struggles. “He knew the pain and darkness… he was compassionate throughout.”
January marked Baier’s fifth year anchoring “Special Report,” but a celebration later this month is even sweeter: Paul Baier turns seven.