Hollywood Reporter: Critics say Bret Baier is professional but leans to the right

It’s a bit hard to get over the absurdity of this article. The underlying idea is that, although he seems to be a straight news guy, secretly Bret Baier is probably—wait for it—a Republican. No, really, that’s the gist. But even there, nearly all of the critical commentary in this Hollywood Reporter story comes from people no one would mistake for impartial sources.

“I think the partisanship comes through very slyly,” says a network source, who isn’t authorized to comment publicly. A former on-air colleague adds: “He leans pro-Trump now.”…

Unsurprisingly, Baier’s toughest critic is Angelo Carusone, the president of Fox-monitoring advocacy group Media Matters for America. “He’s supposed to be the news guy, and there are quantifiable illustrations of him advocating for conservative, partisan politics and ideas,” he says.

That’s really all of the space Carusone is given in the story but the idea that Media Matters is a fair judge is pretty absurd. The group’s reason for existence is to campaign against Fox News.

But critiques extend beyond anti-Fox advocates, even to people who have largely positive impressions of Baier as a journalist and as a person. “He is affable. He was always professional,” a former Obama administration official says of Baier. “I do think, though, that this idea that he is a sort of straight shooter at Fox News is a complete misnomer. He is part and parcel to the editorial bent of his network.”…

During the Obama administration, Baier closely covered the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and the so-called “Fast and Furious” scandal that was seized on by conservative media opinionators. “Bret Baier wasn’t a straight shooter in any of that,” the former Obama administration officials says of his coverage. “He was at the tip of the Fox spear.”

A former Obama official thinks Baier is too aggressive on Fast and Furious and Benghazi? As shocked as I am to hear it, we’re not done with the negative quotes yet:

“I think that Bret is among the more fair ones, but he’s not a fair journalist,” a Democratic Party strategist says. “He is still leading with Obamagate. He is still framing things in this completely, outrageously unfair way that ignores objectivity.”

Media Matters, the Obama admin and a Democratic strategist think he’s not fair. Who would have guessed. Honestly, I feel like these quotes should come with the equivalent of negative control, i.e. can these same people recognize bias in the news people at MSNBC and CNN? I really wonder if they have any ability to detect bias beyond Fox News. And even if they can detect it, does it bother them? I sort of doubt it.

In any case, the story moves on to the suggestion that Baier has been friendly with Trump admin figures, though that seems to be mostly about trying to secure interviews. The closest the story gets to suggesting he takes advantage of those connections for personal gain is this:

In October 2017, Baier had reached out to then-Treasury Dept. spokesperson Tony Sayegh to request a tour of the U.S. Mint building for his family and friends, according to private emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. Baier, however, was very undemanding in making the request, writing in an email: “If it doesn’t work — don’t worry about it. Meant to request last week. Don’t spend too much time on it. If you can point us to someone — and it’s easy — great. If not — no worries. Thanks.”

But there is some evidence Baier leans to the right. He recently hosted a multi-part special titled “The Unauthorized History of Socialism.” That’s obviously evidence he’s too right wing for many Democrats.

As far as media take downs go, this isn’t a very convincing one and maybe that’s to the Hollywood Reporter’s credit. I’m sure they could have found more left-wing critics with axes to grind but they really didn’t try too hard.

It’s really the big picture of this story that makes me shake my head. In a media environment in which probably 85% of “straight news” journalists are not-so-secretly Democrats/progressives, we’ve found space for a story that reveals Bret Baier is probably a Republican. When do we get the follow-up story on the hosts at MSNBC, CNN, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, etc.? I doubt it will be that hard to find evidence that many of those hosts lean to the left both on air and off.