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.”
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.”