Bret Baier: 50 Months Leading The Pack, But Still Shaking Things Up

By Alex Weprin 

Leading up to the 2012 election, Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” was one of the must-see programs for politics junkies. Baier himself was tapped to co-anchor the channel’s election coverage alongside Megyn Kelly.

The election may be over, but “Special Report” continues to generate strong viewership, averaging nearly two million viewers per day. This month, the program will mark 50 months at number one in cable news at 6 PM.

Without an election to preview, the political stories Baier and his team cover have been varied, but there is an underlying theme that Baier says is exemplified by his show’s coverage of policy like sequestration.

“I think that is where our bread and butter is, taking something that is complicated, and making it easier to understand,” Baier tells TVNewser. “Not talking down to the folks who really understand this stuff, but also making sure that everybody gets it.”

The program also looks outside the beltway for stories that are not in its political wheelhouse, but that people are talking about, like the Manti T’eo Hoax story.

“That is not a story that normally fits with special report, but we did it,” Baier says. “We are letting the news drive the show, we are not letting a strict formula of politics-centric do it.”

“Special Report” has changed a bit since Baier took over for Brit Hume in 2009.

There are fresh graphics and new, more energetic music, but the segments and show also saw a faster pace, while keeping the core format the same. The “Staple” of the show, as Baier sees, it, remains the panel, with a group of Washington reporters and insiders talking about the day’s news.

That doesn’t mean the panel won’t see any changes, however. Baier hosts a Web-only show on Wednesday evenings where he and the panel respond in real-time to questions from viewers. It is a harbinger of things to come.

“I think that the future of our business is going to be much more interactive. I think it is going to be much more people expressing themselves one way or another, and you are already seeing that kind of linkage happen,” Baier says, mentioning the Web show. “We think that is bonding our audience in a new way, and expanding to a younger demographic, and I think that is a positive.”

The interactive elements are already shifting to TV, with CSX sponsoring a segment where the panel responds to questions from Twitter on Wednesdays.

“I enjoy it, though my wife doesn’t love that I am so active on Twitter,” Baier quips “But I am learning to put it down now and then.”

Baier also wants to make “Special Report” more international, with reports from other places around the world.

“I had a guy who tweeted me from Asia, and he was watching on Slingbox, I have got people in Scotland who tweet me, and all different kinds of places,” Baier says. “We are going to try and get to different spots around the world with the show, and try and bring the show places to try and expand some viewership.”