Fox News' Bret Baier believes Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike will gather around the TV this year for the national conventions, which kick off Monday/tonight in Tampa with the Republican rollout.
People — otherwise not engaged up to this point — really start paying attention with the conventions, says Baier.
The "Special Report" anchor will be front and center for both conventions, and he's spent his whole life getting ready for it. The part-time Naples resident worked as the cable news network's Pentagon correspondent and as White House correspondent. He's also covered past conventions, as both a reporter and anchor.
From the top
In 1998, Baier was working at WRAL-TV, the CBS affiliate in Raleigh, N.C. when he was hired as Fox News’ southeast correspondent.
"Actually, I was the bureau. I started with an apartment, a cellphone and a fax machine," Baier says.
Fateful days can make a news person's career. Think Dan Rather, on scene for the JFK shooting.
Sept. 11, 2001, was a fateful day for Baier. As news broke that morning, he was told to get in his car and drive toward New York. Before he made it out of Georgia, he was redirected to D.C. after one of the planes hit the Pentagon. He would stay there for the next five years.
In his position with Fox News, Baier has traveled the world, including 13 trips to Afghanistan and 12 trips to Iraq. In 2006, Baier was named Fox White House correspondent, covering the administration of George W. Bush. In the fall of 2007, he began substituting for Brit Hume, then-anchor of "Special Report," whom Baier calls a mentor.
A short time later, in December 2008, Hume announced Baier would replace him.
Baier hosted his first show as permanent anchor on Jan. 5, 2009.
Baier and Naples
It was Baier's wife Amy (the couple has two young sons, Paul and Daniel) who led him to Naples — or, more specifically, her parents, who are longtime Naples residents.
Baier has a home here. His own mother, Pat, lives here full-time in the Vineyards community and works for the American Cancer Society.
"We love it. The people are fantastic," says Baier.
As you might imagine, being a Fox anchor comes with a certain amount of celebrity status in this neck of the woods, and Baier doesn't mind.
"People come up all the time and ask for pictures. I'm good with that." If you see him, and wonder, the answer is yes; he encourages you say hello.
And like many Southwest Florida residents, Baier knows what it feels like to wake up before dawn and make his way across Alligator Alley. That's what he did on the morning of Mitt Romney's VP announcement, broadcasting from Fox's Miami bureau.
"It's a different trust level," says Baier. "You are in their living room every night."
Fox News enjoys a certain engagement with its viewers that's hard to find among other news organizations and their viewers. And while the network's opinion shows might lean to the right, Baier rejects the notion that Fox News takes sides when it comes to reporting the news.
"We try to be as fair to both sides as possible." He says the loudest critics have never watched the show or the network.
"Give me three days," says Baier. "And if you're being honest, you'll agree we're fair."
Catch coverage of the Republican National Convention, beginning Tuesday, starting with "Special Report" at 6 p.m. and continuing with prime time coverage, which will also include Baier.
WINK and the Naples Daily News hosted the Leadership Marco class on Wednesday.
At the Daily News, class members watched a taping of "Naples Daily Newsmakers with Jeff Lytle." The show airs Sundays at 10 a.m. on ABC 7.
At WINK, the class was in the studio for the midday newscast.
News Director Russ Kilgore and Greg Stetson, program director, who coordinated the WINK portion of the event, addressed the group. Burt Spangler, station promotions, spoke to the group.
Arsenio, 'Family' home
If you missed last week's column, we discussed some changes to daytime programming on local stations.
Two exciting bits of information I neglected to relay. Starting in fall 2013, Fox 4 will be airing Arsenio Hall's new late night talk show at 11:30 p.m.
Judy Kenney, vice president and general manager, says she is "very excited" about the acquisition.
The show was very popular at the Grand Rapids Fox affiliate, WXMI, where she worked previously.
Hall's first show was so popular on Miami Fox affiliate WSVN that at the time of cancellation, it was beating both Leno and Letterman, she said. Station brass would have renewed the show indefinitely, if given the chance. Unfortunately, national numbers were not as positive.
Also TV 6 will begins airing repeats of "Modern Family" in the fall of 2013, most likely at 7 p.m.
We'll be talking about some promising new Fall prime time shows next week. Until then, stay tuned.
Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at facebook.com/billdgreen.