Bret Baier is at the top of his game: His FOX News show, “Special Report with Bret Baier,” has been the No. 1 news program on TV for 50 consecutive months (a feat only achieved by a small handful of news anchors) and he’s gotten the chance to sit down with some major political players — including President Obama. “It’s been quite a ride,” says Baier, who took over the show from Brit Hume in 2009. “Covering Washington is like drinking from a fire hose: It’s nonstop news.”
For a guy who started his career in Hilton Head, S.C., reporting on “sea turtle nesting and what color azaleas would be planted along the road,” Baier has come a long way. After conquering smaller markets, he was tasked with starting FOX’s Atlanta outpost. “The Atlanta bureau started in my apartment with a fax machine and a cell phone,” he says. But when 9/11 struck, and all of New York’s reporters were occupied, Baier drove up to Virginia to report on the Pentagon attack — and he never went back to Atlanta. After four months, he became the chief correspondent to the Pentagon, and it wasn’t long before he was named national security correspondent (making more than a dozen trips to Afghanistan and Iraq) and the White House chief correspondent.
Now that he’s riding high, Baier is able to focus on family. He married wife Amy, a Barrington native, in Chicago in 2004 and the couple is now raising their two sons, Paul and Daniel, in D.C. Fatherhood hasn’t come without its struggles — Paul, now 5 years old, was born with five different congenital heart defects and has had two open-heart surgeries and seven angioplasties. But Baier couldn’t be more supportive or optimistic. “[Paul is] doing fantastic. We are very blessed,” he says. “We’re on the Children’s National Medical Center Foundation board, giving back to the hospital that saved his life.” Baier’s philanthropic efforts don’t stop in Washington — he’s coming back to Chicago in June to emcee the Saving Tiny Hearts gala, which raises money for congenital heart defect research (visit Savingtinyhearts.org for more info).
Whether in his role as a hard-hitting journalist or a soft-spoken family man, Baier’s always aiming for the top. Covering non-stop Capitol Hill happenings doesn’t leave him much free time, but when he does get the occasional Sunday off, here’s how he spends it.
10 a.m. After spending Saturday night in Barrington with family (including power pair Tom and Darby Hills), the Baiers go back to the city for mass at Holy Name Cathedral (730 N. State), where they were married.
11 a.m. The couple heads to Gibson’s Steakhouse (1028 N. Rush) for brunch.
2 p.m. Baier is training for a 10K run, so he loves getting in a jog along the lakefront — when the weather’s decent, of course.
4 p.m. Time to unwind with a massage at the Peninsula Chicago Spa (108 E. Superior).
5:30 p.m. Amy can’t visit her hometown without shopping on Michigan Avenue “with a warmed up credit card,” Bret jokes.
9:30 p.m. Rooftop drinks at the Park Hyatt’s NoMi Garden (800 N. Michigan) are the perfect end to the day. But the Baiers know they have to be up early on Monday with their sons, so they keep an eye on the clock.
Story by Zak Stemer