Since its founding, the Fox News Channel has relied on Brit Hume to lead its presidential election coverage. This time around, though, marks a changing of the guard, with co-anchors Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly leading FNC’s coverage Tuesday night.
Baier spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about politics in general and his expectations for a contentious election day.
The Hollywood Reporter: What time will you be able to call the race?
Bret Baier: This could go really late. But if we get some early calls it could change the dynamics of the race.
THR: Why would an early call do that?
Baier: Because we’ll get Virginia and Florida at 7 p.m., and if they go for President Obama it’s an early signal that the race is pretty much over. There are very few ways for Romney to get to 270 electoral votes after that.
THR: And if those states go for Romney, is it also over?
Baier: No. That’s when you get the late-night possibility. But if you’re able to call Ohio before 11 p.m., then it might be an earlier night than some people think. But our bet is we’ll be up waiting for Cuyahoga County or something.
THR: How can you call Florida and Virginia at the same time polls close there?
Baier: We wouldn’t call them if they’re close. But exit polls and raw data could allow us to call a big battleground state for one candidate or the other, and that gives you a sense of how the night will shape up.
THR: If you are able to call Virginia or Florida at 7 p.m., how much of the vote would have been counted in those states?
Baier: In a lot of states 40 percent have voted early or by absentee, so they already know. I think it will be around 25 percent in Virginia. We don’t know who’s winning, but they do, and the count will just pop up at 7:01 p.m. on Tuesday.
THR: Who are you rooting for?
Baier: Oh, come on. I honestly don’t care. I want to cover this as fairly as I can.
THR: Who are you voting for?
Baier. I’m not going to say. But I’m a registered independent.
THR: You were a moderator of one of the Republican primary debates. So as someone who has been there, who was the best moderator of the three presidential debates?
Baier: I’m partial to the last one. Bob Schieffer did a great job. He asked pointed questions then let the back-and-forth develop.
THR: You’ve interviewed some very prominent people lately. Who was the most interesting?
Baier: My favorite was an interview with President Obama three days before the healthcare law was passed by the House. We tried to get into the weeds of the bill because not a lot of people knew what was in it.
THR: Did the president know what was in it?
Baier: From a 30,000-foot view he did, but we were into the Cornhusker deal, the Connecticut deal. Remember, what the White House did was hand the keys of the negotiations to Congress, and a lot of the 2,700 pages were dealt with over there. What the president was trying to do was sell it. I covered it extensively and tried to get as much detail as I could, so we came to loggerheads at one point.
THR: What was the most difficult interview to secure?
Baier: The next interview with President Obama. We’ve been trying desperately. We thought we had it locked up before the election, but apparently it’s not going to happen, unless you have some insight.
THR: Not me. Why should someone watch Fox News on Tuesday instead of MSNBC or CNN?
Baier: I have fun anchoring next to Megyn Kelly. We love what we do and it comes across. Plus, we have a great stable of experts -- Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, Joe Trippi and Karl Rove. My guess is that it will be a late night and getting that granularity in coverage is key, especially for political junkies. I’m one of those, and hopefully there are millions more like me.
THR: How about if I lean left? Should I still watch Fox News on Tuesday?
Baier: Yes. We cover both sides and have vigorous debates. Juan Williams and Joe Trippi definitely pipe in with insights into the Obama campaign. We’re fair and balanced.
THR: Is MSNBC fair and balanced?
Baier: You know what, I spend my time worrying about my show and not watching anyone else. That’s not just a talking point, it’s the truth. I don’t watch them.
THR: What about the people who say your claim of being fair and balanced is bogus?
Baier: The loudest critics are the ones who haven’t watched. I say, watch my show, Special Report, and watch Shepard Smith’s Fox Report for three nights, then I’ll take your criticism seriously.
THR: Are things more polarized today than in the past?
Baier: We have a polarized country, yes. Whatever happens Tuesday, the bigger challenge is what happens Wednesday and beyond, dealing with major things, like the fiscal cliff.
THR: Will there be riots after the election?
Baier: I don’t think we’re to that point. The American people respect the election process. But if there are riots, we’ll cover them.
THR: Will there be cheating?
Baier: There will be allegations, and we’ll look into them.
THR: What issue will be top of mind when people go to vote?
Baier: If you trust the polls, it’s their pocketbooks.
THR: What’s your take on Benghazi? Is it all the fault of a video?
Baier: The intelligence community is now conceding that that’s not the deal. In the first few minutes they knew it was an Al Qaeda-linked group. This is a three-act tragedy: One is the lack of security; two is the response; and the third act is what was said about it for days and days after, when intelligence was saying one thing and the public messengers were saying another. The story won’t go away. I think we’ll have hearings.
THR: Why is Fox News covering that story more than others?
Baier: I’ve asked numerous people that question, and I haven’t received a sufficient answer.
THR: Who’s our next president?
Baier: I’m bad at predictions. I thought it would be tough for either candidate to get aggressive in that second debate with a townhall format, so that gives you a sense of how well I can predict things.