Fox News Channel’s bold graphics are an ever-present sight on the network’s screen. A direct interview between Hillary Clinton and one of its anchors is not. Tonight, both will appear on its air simultaneously.
The former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State and Democratic candidate for President may not be a familiar foil on Fox News, but that doesn’t mean Bret Baier isn’t ready to interview her. Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders will take part in what has in the recent past been a rare event on the 21st Century Fox-owned outlet, which is generally thought to be more popular among members of the Republican Party. Fox News will broadcast a “town hall” meeting with the two Democratic candidates from Detroit’s Gem Theatre in front of an audience of Michigan voters just one day before the state’s primary.
“It’s not like we don’t cover the Democratic campaign. We cover it every day,” said Baier, in an interview Sunday afternoon. “This is an opportunity for them to reach out to our audience,” he said, which happens to be the largest among cable-news outlets.
The event is the latest effort by cable-news outlets to ride the intense interest in the 2016 campaign to greater glories. Viewers have flocked to various Democratic and Republican debates held by Fox News and its rivals in numbers that easily best the dramas and comedies that show up in broadcast primetime. Fox News’ coverage of an August 6 Republican debate lured nearly 24 million viewers, 7.94 million of them in the advertiser-coveted 25-to-54 audience – an outsize result that has yet to be bested in the current campaign.
While CNN broadcast a Democratic debate Sunday night, Baier said he believes Fox News will find subjects worthy of coverage. “The topics that people care about are the economy and national security,” he said. Fox News producers will “watch the debate and study it and fill in the blanks, perhaps with what was not being covered.”
He credits Fox News “persistence” for the town hall event. The Sanders’ campaign signed on early, he said, though Clinton’s participation was not secured until after Fox News announced it would broadcast the event. “We have tried to get a Democratic debate for a long time. That didn’t work,” said Baier. “We’re interested in talking to Hillary Clinton and hoping it leads to other things down the road.”
Tonight’s event will mark the first time Baier has interviewed Clinton since 2014, he said. That lack of access does not mean his line of questioning to Democratic candidates will be any less informed. “I’ve seen many an interview with them, and obviously followed their campaigns very closely,” said Baier. “It’s not like I’m a stranger.” The one-hour event takes place Monday night at 6 p.m. eastern.