Bret Baier

Class of 2024

  • Chief Political Anchor; Anchor & Executive Editor, Special Report with Bret Baier FOX News Channel

Don’t ignore the journey on your way to a goal. The journey is an important part of the whole thing.

Bret Baier was born in 1970 in Red Bank, New Jersey, but raised in Atlanta, Georgia. His father worked as an oil broker and traveled often for his job. His mother began her career as a flight attendant, then became a travel agent, and later became an accountant. “Both my parents were hard workers,” says Baier. “They instilled in me the importance of working hard enough not only to pay my own way but also to get to the next level.”

Baier’s first job was mowing lawns. “I did 10 lawns each weekend,” he says. “When I was older, I was a caddy and golf cart attendant at the local country club. I also worked as a busboy and waiter and eventually as a bartender. I learned early on that hard work pays off. To be successful, you don’t always have to be the smartest kid or the most well off. But if you can hustle, you’re going to prosper.”

A self-described ham, Baier enjoyed school and was motivated to be involved in a variety of activities. He recalls, “I was a little entertainer and always wanted to make people laugh. In high school I was outgoing and served as the sports editor of the school newspaper and as president of the student council. In the spring, I was in the musicals and plays. I was very motivated and had a lot of fun, but I was always looking for the next thing.”

During his junior year, Baier, who always had a love of sports, obtained an internship with the sports anchor of the ABC affiliate in Atlanta. He enjoyed the experience, but what caught his eye were the reporters and anchors of the news. “I refocused and knew that when I started college, I wanted to pursue television journalism as a career.”

Baier played on his college golf team at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he double majored in English and political science. During the summer, he did an internship at a TV station in Hilton Head, South Carolina. “They let me cover stories that actually made the air,” he says. “It was a great experience.”

After playing golf all four years at DePauw and serving as the captain of a team that went to the NCAA championships, Baier graduated and got a permanent job at the Hilton Head TV station where he had interned. “I covered ‘big’ stories like the nesting of the loggerhead sea turtles or the color of the azaleas in the median strip. I was a one-man band: the photographer, writer, and reporter. I put my stories together and then sent them to the mothership in Beaufort by 3:00 every day. Once I made that deadline, I went to my second job delivering food. Once I went to a house to make a delivery and the guy said, ‘Aren’t you the reporter on channel six?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir, did you order the calzone?’ To make ends meet, I had a third job bartending.”

To improve his reporting skills, Baier sent away for VHS tapes of award-winning news stories. “I watched those tapes over and over,” he says, “trying to hone my craft. Finally, I made a tape of my best stories and sent it to markets around the country. I heard back from Amarillo, Texas, and Rockford, Illinois. There was more news going on in Rockford, so I chose that job.”

While in Rockford at WRAL, an NBC affiliate, Baier was credited with breaking several statehouse stories. He went on to anchor a weekend show. After 10 months, he made a new tape of his reports to send around the country. He received an offer from WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, a CBS affiliate. “I was there for more than two years,” he says. “I did every kind of story from tornadoes to politics. I learned a lot from some of the great reporters there. I ended up covering the state capitol and then I got an agent, who told me about a new start-up channel that saw my tape. They wanted to offer me a job. This was the FOX News Channel. I worked for their Atlanta bureau from my apartment with a fax machine and a cell phone. That was 27 years ago.”

In 2001, as the 9-11 attacks took place, Baier was called upon to cover the Pentagon. Afterwards, he became the FOX News Channel (FNC) national security correspondent for the next six years. In 2006, he became the chief White House correspondent and covered the second term of the George W. Bush administration.

In 2009, Baier took over for his friend and mentor Brit Hume as the anchor of Special Report. He also serves as the chief political anchor of the network and the host of FOX News Audio’s “The Bret Baier Podcast.” Throughout his tenure at FNC, he has played a critical role in every major political event.

Baier has received numerous awards for his work. In 2016, he earned the Kenneth Y. Tomlinson Award for Outstanding Journalism from the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program. In 2017, he received the Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism from the National Press Foundation.

An accomplished best-selling author, Baier has published seven books: Three Days in January; Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission, Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire, Three Days at the Brink: FDR’s Daring Gamble to Win World War II, To Rescue the Republic: Ulysses S. Grant, the Fragile Union and the Crisis of 1876, and To Rescue the Constitution: George Washington and the Fragile American Experiment, as well as a children’s graphic novel, The History Club; Duel Across Time.

Baier’s first book, published in 2014, was the deeply personal account about his son Paul, who was born with five congenital heart defects. In the book, Special Heart: A Journey of Faith, Hope, Courage, and Love, he details all his son has had to endure. “Essentially, my son’s heart was pumping the wrong way,” says Baier. “His first open-heart surgery took place when he was 10 days old. The surgeon reworked a heart that was the size of a walnut, moving arteries the size of angel hair pasta. Paul came back from surgery with his chest still open (to keep the swelling down) but covered with a clear plastic bandage. Looking down and seeing your son’s tiny heart pumping changes your life forever. It changes how you look at things. It changes what’s important and what’s not important. We were blessed that day and we are so grateful to all those who contributed to Paul’s recovery.”

As he’s grown, Baier’s son has undergone three more open-heart surgeries, plus several stent procedures. Today, at age 16 and at a height of 6’3”, Paul Baier is doing very well. “We are deeply grateful and have such a deep appreciation for Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., where all of Paul’s surgeries have taken place. From this experience we now have a family motto: Gratitude is the attitude.”

Baier remembers a time when he spent the night in the hospital with eight-year-old Paul, who was undergoing yet another heart procedure. “He woke up in the middle of the night and asked me why other kids in his class were not having to go through what he had been enduring since his birth. I told him that God has a plan for him and that he is passing with flying colors. He accepted that and went back to sleep. But my message to anyone going through a tough time is that whether you believe life is all mapped out or not, you have to believe that you can get through tough times and come out of it successfully, to look to the light at the end of the tunnel.”

When Baier thinks about his success, he says that his ideas on the subject have changed over time. “I’ve always been a striver. My career has been about going to the next rung on the ladder. But today I’m figuring out a work/life balance. I have not yet fully realized all my goals, but to me happiness is one form of success—and I’m definitely happy.”

Baier often addresses graduating students and when offering advice to young people, he encourages them not to miss the journey. “So many people get caught up in trying to be successful, they miss the journey along the way. But you shouldn’t ignore the journey because that is an important part of the whole thing.”

Honored and excited about his Horatio Alger Award, Baier says, “I think this recognition for me reinforces the importance of hard work. We live in an Instagram world that give us so many distractions, but if you can focus on work—work you love—then success will come your way.”