Bret Baier on Fans, Ratings and Being a ‘Political Junkie’

By Merrill Knox 

Bret Baier is about 15 minutes into “Special Report” when the first fan stops by.

“Love your show. Watch it every night,” she tells him eagerly. “Never miss it.”

Baier, luckily in a commercial break at the time, smiles and waves, abandoning his notes to chat with the woman, who is from North Carolina and proclaims herself his “biggest fan.” She has some competition — by the end of the show, a small crowd will have amassed around the Fox News skybox, on the third floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“I like it. It doesn’t bother me,” Baier told TVNewser in between shows. “When people come up to you, it’s a big part of being in their living room. They think they know you because you’re in their living room every night. So I think you have to be respectful, and take the picture, and thank them for being a viewer.”

This is Baier’s first convention as the network’s lead political anchor, a role he took over into after Brit Hume stepped down in 2008. So far, his coverage is a success: on Tuesday night, Fox News posted higher ratings than any other network.

“These ratings were great, and we’re excited. Any time that we can compete, and beat, the major networks, that is a huge deal for us,” he said.

Baier, who anchors coverage from Charlotte next week for the Democratic National Convention, said his approach to the two events is “completely different.”

“Both sides say that this is a very stark choice. Viewers and voters are starting to realize that it is,” Baier said. “I think [the DNC] will be a much different tone, a much different atmosphere.”

“Most of all, I’m a political junkie, and this is in my wheelhouse,” says Baier. “If people can see that on the screen, that’s a good thing.”