Fox's Bret Baier: One Cable Network Can't Hopelessly Divide the Country

Fox News host Bret Baier appeared on C-SPAN’s June 1 Q&A with Brian Lamb to promote his new book Special Heart: A Journey of Faith, Hope, Courage, and Love. Among the many topics discussed during the interview was the nation's political divide and Lamb wanted to know what Baier thought of the people who blamed the divide on Fox News.

Baier noted that is very worthwhile to point out that D.C. is more divided now than it ever has been. But Lamb wanted to know why such a divide exists. Baier pointed out that there really is no way to pinpoint it to one issue. That's when the C-SPAN founder took the opportunity to bring up the people who blame Fox News by saying, “I’m sure you’ve heard people blame Fox News.”

Baier diplomatically replied, “I’m sure I have,” to which Lamb responded by asking Baier what his response is to those who make that charge.

The Special Report host quipped that it was “a lot of power for one cable network” to have to cause such division, a kind way of highlighting the absurdity of the argument. Baier concluded his answer by saying,

“There are opinion shows and there are news shows just like there is a newspaper section and an editorial section. Is the New York Times editorial driving people partisan so they can't work with Republicans? Is MSNBC and their editorial shows, are they driving people away? No. I think people are smart.”

It is also worth pointing out that Lamb asked Baier about his 2010 interview with President Obama that centered around the health-care law. Baier informed Lamb that he had initially been told he would get thirty minutes with the president, then it was cut down to twenty-five, and then when the President walked in he told him he only had fifteen minutes, so Baier had to arrange his interview accordingly.

Lamb then played back a quick portion of the president getting frustrated with Baier, after which Lamb wondered, “why do you have to use kid gloves with the president?” The Fox News host explained to Lamb that it was very clear to him that the president’s frustration came from either him not wanting to answer his questions or from an inability to sufficiently answer them.

You’ll remember that Baier spent the fifteen minutes he did have with the president asking him the very same tough but fair questions about the law which has consistently cropped up since the bill's signing and rocky implementation.

As a refresher, you can find MRC president Brent Bozell’s comments on Baier’s job well done along with some YouTube links to the interview itself here.

The relevant portion is transcribed below:

BRIAN LAMB: People constantly complain about the divide in town. Is it worth complaining about?

BRET BAIER: It is worth noting that it is a far more partisan town than it ever has been. Whether it is worth complaining about I don't know. I mean, the folks that voted put those representatives in.

LAMB: Put your finger on the reason. They always ask the question. Why is the town so crossed with each other? What do you think?

BAIER: It is tough to pinpoint one reason. One is the squeaky wheel often gets attention. Two is, there hasn't been a feelingly like getting together has been the priority. That wasn't the message sent by both sides of both parties. It was fight for the political ideology and stand your ground. That is what they took from those elections. Both sides read the same election different ways. I think increasingly when I travel the country I hear getting things done would be good. You know as well as I do there are a lot of big pieces of legislation that are pretty close if you look at the votes. They are a view votes away from passing some big stuff. But something happens and they go to their corners and it's the process all over again.

LAMB: I am sure you heard people blame Fox News.

BAIER: I’m sure I have.

LAMB: What do you say to them?

BAIER: That is a lot of power for one cable network to be dividing the country. I just do not see it. Listen. There are opinion shows and there are news shows just like there is a newspaper section and an editorial section. Is the "New York Times" editorial driving people partisan so they can't work with Republicans? Is MSNBC and their editorial shows, are they driving people away? No. I think people are smart. Whether the pendulum swings to where getting things done is the priority, we will have to wait to see.
 

Jackie Seal
Jackie Seal is a 2014 summer intern with the MRC's News Analysis Division.