Fox News host Bret Baier told Business Insider why he dedicated several minutes of his show Wednesday to implore President Donald Trump to return to “Special Report” for an interview.
In a statement on Thursday, Baier said he decided to reach out to the president publicly after Trump praised Fox News during an Arizona rally, saying the network treated him “very fairly.” Trump specifically complimented opinion hosts who have granted him sympathetic interviews, including Sean Hannity and the hosts of “Fox & Friends.”
But Baier noted that Trump hadn’t sat for an interview with anyone on the network’s news side during his time as president. (Fox News defines its programs as either “news” or “opinion.”)
“With the President’s comments about Fox in Phoenix Tuesday night, I thought it was a good time to remind viewers that virtually all of the interviews President Trump has granted to Fox News in the last 300 days have mainly been with our talented colleagues who work on the opinion side of things, so I wanted our viewers to know we’re not giving up and I wanted the President to know directly from me that he has nothing to fear from sitting down and taking my tough but fair questions.”
Baier said his staff had been in contact with the Trump transition team and then the White House press office every week since the election to try to schedule an interview.
On his show on Wednesday, Baier pointed to a recent Harvard University Shorenstein Center study that examined coverage of Trump on cable news programs. It found that “Special Report” was 52% negative and 48% positive, while most news programs’ coverage of Trump was overwhelmingly negative.
“President Trump, I assume you know you will be treated fairly here and of course, asked tough, but fair questions,” Baier said. “I look forward to getting you back on the number one news show on the number one news channel very soon.”
Trump has sat for interviews with opinion hosts like Jesse Watters, Tucker Carlson, and Hannity since taking office, but he has avoided interviews with news anchors like Baier and “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.
At a moment when many hosts on Fox News’ opinion programs have defended and supported Trump, hosts on the news side like Wallace have frequently posited tough questions of many top Trump administration officials. Both Wallace’s contentious interviews with Trump administration officials and anchor Shepard Smith’s monologues critical of the president have repeatedly gone viral.
For his part, Baier has carefully attempted to maintain a reputation of fairness.
Though Baier’s panels tend to lean heavily on conservative voices, when Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appeared in rare appearances on Fox News, they often chose to be interviewed by Baier, whom NPR’s David Folkenflik called the “next-generation of Fox News anchor” in 2011.