Fox News anchor Bret Baier has only been in the anchor desk at "Special Report with Bret Baier" since early January but the 38-year old newsman is already making headway in the Nielsen ratings at the 6 p.m. hour.
The former WRAL reporter - he spent two years in the Triangle before moving on to FNC in 1998 - recently spoke to The N&O about his journalism career. That story will appear in The N&O on Monday. Baier, born in New Jersey and raised in Atlanta, also opined on a few current issues for our blog audience:
Q: President [Barack] Obama did a quick visit with troops in Iraq this week, but not in Afghanistan. I'd read some commentary on a couple of different Web sites that was critical of that move. What's your take on it?
A: I think that the thought process from the administration was that they'd spent a lot of time on Afghanistan, talking about it, rolling out a new Afghanistan-Pakistan plan. It had been a focus of news coverage for a number of weeks, overshadowing what many thought the effort of the troops in Iraq. I've been to Iraq 13 times and I've been exactly where President Obama gave his address at Camp Victory. It's this old palace of Saddam's. There's this big chandelier and a big marble foyer. For the soldiers, mariners, and civil contractors who've been there for months on end doing a job, to have the President of the United States, no matter what party they come from, there taking pictures, and thanking them for their service, it means the world to them. It really does.
Q: Not everybody gets to cover the White House like you have. How are President Obama and former President Bush the same and different, and not with their political philosophies, but as men. Men who have held that office have to have something in common. Oh wait, have you met President Obama?
A: Yes. I went to lunch with President Obama before his speech to the Joint Session of Congress [on Feb. 24]. He's very engaging. Here's what they have in common: both men are very good 'people' people. Clearly they're both very accomplished politically. They make you feel important when you're talking to them. I think they have very different styles. President Obama is a little professorial. He takes his time laying out his answers and he thinks about things a lot. Bush is so different from his public persona off the podium and off the record. Any reporter will tell you that, in closed sessions, they were astonished about how broad his overall grasp of issues really was. Anyone who has covered the White House will tell you that the difference between on the record Bush and off the record Bush was stark. Their similarities are their ability to be politicians one on one and their differences, I think will play out over time.
Q: One last thing, is there anything you miss about Raleigh?
A: I've been back to visit and I just love it. It's expanded more. There's a lot more stuff there. But there are great people down there. I have to go back.