Fox News anchor Bret Baier acts like he’s never heard of Trump refusing to leave office

Baier downplays fears that Trump would set up an authoritarian regime, doesn’t acknowledge Trump’s previous failed coup attempt

Fox News’ purported “straight news” anchor Bret Baier made a remarkable claim Tuesday morning, downplaying the ongoing concerns that former President Donald Trump, if he is elected again, would seek to crack down on his detractors and set up an authoritarian regime. While Baier professed not to see evidence for these fears, he left out the key detail that Trump’s term in office literally ended with an attempt to subvert the election result and hold onto power after losing in 2020.

Baier appeared on the conservative talk radio program hosted by Washington Post columnist Hugh Hewitt, who asked him about “the explosion of Trump hysteria.” As examples, Hewitt disparagingly cited columns from Washington Post editor-at-large Robert Kagan and Ishaan Tharoor, as well as extensive content in The Atlantic. (This is not the first time Hewitt has shown professional disrespect to his colleagues for their coverage of Trump.)

Baier urged people to “put things in perspective,” noting that Trump previously made comments that “raised some concerns” throughout his 2016 presidential campaign and during his term in office, but the country continued to function with “checks and balances.” (These checks and balances are exactly what Trump openly intends to dismantle in a second term.)

“Some of the things he’s said have, you know, been troubling,” Baier said. “But would it be a dictatorship that doesn’t step down from office? It’s hard for me to back that up as of yet.”

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Citation From the December 5, 2023, edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show

BRET BAIER (FOX NEWS ANCHOR): I mean, we’ve seen articles from The Washington Post, The New York Times, as you mentioned, the entire Atlantic magazine dedicated to that. You saw Jon Karl and his book, and his interviews about his book, talking about that particular segment. You’ve seen Liz Cheney out with a new book and doing interviews and referencing that, saying that she believes that he wouldn’t step down from office if elected again, that this would be the last election that you would ever vote in.

I just think people have to put things in perspective. Yes, Donald Trump has on the stump said some things that have raised some eyebrows and raised some concerns. He’s said things like this, or similar to them, prior to 2016. We saw four years of Donald Trump — were there issues that crossed lines? Yes, they raised all kinds of questions. But did people for the most part live their lives and were there checks and balances? Yes, there were. So, I think some perspective on all of this is really important. And some of the things he’s said have, you know, been troubling. But would it be a dictatorship that doesn’t step down from office? It’s hard for me to back that up as of yet.

HUGH HEWITT (HOST): I think it’s utterly hysterical. Because I teach constitutional law, and the Constitution is very strong. And I recall the Roberts court rebuking and overruling the former president, as it has the current president, whenever they go too far vis-a-vis the law. And the rule of law in this country is very, very strong. And this is very, very hysterical.

Baier’s stunning display of seeming ignorance must be placed in the context of his own track record of spreading right-wing misinformation. In late 2020, Baier privately acknowledged that Trump’s claims of mass voter fraud had “NO evidence” and were “totally heinous,” while at the same time failing to fact-check Trump’s claims on the air. Baier also privately argued for the network to retract its correct projection that Joe Biden had won the swing state of Arizona, arguing that the network should consider other factors beyond just “statistics and the numbers.” Then on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College votes, Baier claimed, “It's not like it's a siege … it seems like they are protesting.”