Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier squirmed on Monday when colleague Brian Kilmeade pressed him over reports that he was bothered by Tucker Carlson’s conspiracy-laden Jan. 6 “documentary,” eventually conceding that there were indeed “concerns” within the network over the unhinged special.
During an appearance on Kilmeade’s Fox News Radio program, first flagged by Mediaite, Baier was asked to weigh in on the recent resignations of longtime Fox News contributors Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes. The pair, who are also co-founders of anti-Trump conservative outlet The Dispatch, had both been with Fox since 2009 and regularly appeared on Baier’s midday political analysis show.
Following the release of Carlson’s multi-part Patriot Purge series that baselessly suggested the Capitol riots were a “false flag” orchestrated by the federal government, however, Hayes and Goldberg claimed they’d had enough and publicly quit, citing the program’s “truly dangerous” and factually inaccurate content. Furthermore, NPR reported that Baier and fellow veteran anchor Chris Wallace complained to upper management about the decision to air Carlson’s feature.
“What’s going on with Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg? Why do they not want to come on?” Kilmeade questioned Baier on Monday.
“I think it was a tough choice but one that they’ve made on principle,” the Special Report anchor replied. “And I’m going to let them speak for themselves.”
Baier would then boast that his program prides itself for listening to “all kinds of voices” before lamenting that it was “sad” that Hayes and Goldberg had departed, adding again that they’d “made their choice on principle.”
Kilmeade followed up by heaping praise on Patriot Purge, saying it brought an “interesting perspective” on the Jan. 6 violence. At the same time, he wondered aloud about Baier’s feelings about the Fox Nation series.
“I didn’t get hurt by it. I didn’t get damaged by it. Were you bothered by it? Because that’s the reporting,” the longtime Fox & Friends host asked, prompting an awkward silence.
“There’s—Brian, I don’t want to go down this road,” a clearly uncomfortable Baier replied. “I mean, there were concerns about it definitely. I think that the news division did what we do when we covered the story.”
“I want to do all of that internally,” Baier concluded, attempting to move on. “Steve and Jonah made the decision, and it’s their decision.”
Before the release of Patriot Purge but after Carlson aired an over-the-top promo for the series, Baier featured a segment on Special Report about the insurrection by Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin. Griffin’s report notably included interviews that dismissed “false flag” claims about the riots.
Wallace, meanwhile, interviewed Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Fox News Sunday. A prominent Republican critic of former President Trump’s election lies, Cheney called it “un-American” and “dangerous” to peddle insurrection conspiracies. Prior to her Fox News Sunday appearance, she had repeatedly called out Fox and Carlson over the documentary.