Gracefully teetering on her red-bottomed stilettos and dressed to the nines, Amy Baier effortlessly exudes stylish elegance, but the fashion aficionado is also a fitness buff who is equally at ease in a pair of sneakers and workout clothes. Amy is a multifaceted mother of two boys, Paul, age 13, and Daniel, age 10, who’s been married to Fox News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier for 16 years. She is immaculately groomed, yet, make no mistake, she’s a resilient hockey mom who regularly gets Daniel to the ice rink fed, dressed, and ready to go for his crack-of-dawn practice.
“I’m a very hands-on sports mom,” she says. “They play a lot of golf; Paul tries to play every day, and Daniel, three times a week, because he does travel hockey and basketball, as well. It’s nonstop sports around here.” Amy herself is an accomplished tennis player. “I was always competitive and athletic growing up. I was surrounded by boys and sports. It prepared me for my boys. They are simple and sweet. But that’s why we got a pandemic girl dog, Coco Chanel, to balance out our household.”
Although she may look like a glamazon, Amy has a composed, down-to-earth strength about her that she credits to being raised with three brothers, including her twin brother Danny. (Bret, too, has a younger brother, Tim, in Charlotte, North Carolina.) These roll-with-it characteristics serve her well as a life partner to Bret, whose profession is loaded with stress. Prior to his NI photo shoot and interview, Bret had just wrapped his election week coverage, which he did while crashing in a hotel near Fox News’ New York City headquarters—and with a sharp pain shooting from his foot. “I was scootering around the hallways of the studios,” he says, but he toughed it out. To take a breather after a long week, the Baiers packed up their sons and puppy, and flew down to Naples from D.C., where they have lived for 16 years, for a much-needed getaway.
Amy grew up in a Chicago suburb but frequently visited Naples to escape blustery Midwest winters. “When I met Bret, I introduced him to Naples, and he loved it so much that we eventually bought a condo here,” she says. “I have so many fond memories of Naples as a kid, so it’s fun to create memories here with our kids.”
The Baiers’ Naples pad is two buildings down from Amy’s younger brother and four buildings down from her parents, Paul and Barbie Hills. Meanwhile, her twin brother has a residence in The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, and Bret’s mom, Patricia, resides in Naples full-time, too. “We try to spend our holidays here in Naples,” notes Amy. “We have a strong sense of family.” Her parents are very involved in the local philanthropic scene, particularly with Hats in the Garden and the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
9/11 was an influential day, in different ways, for Amy and Bret Baier. When Amy graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in communications, she moved to New York City to be a media planner for Calvin Klein. “After 9/11, my lease soon ran out and I went back to Chicago to work in a neuroscience retail division at Eli Lilly. My family was in the health care business, so switching gears made sense.”
Meanwhile, Bret, a former student athlete who played Division III golf at DePauw University in Indiana and double majored in English and political science, was moving through the ranks of small-market television broadcasting. “I bounced all over the country,” he recalls. “Hilton Head, South Carolina; Rockford, Illinois; Raleigh, North Carolina…I’ve covered everything from Elián González, to tornadoes, 14 hurricanes, and Timothy McVeigh.”
For Bret, everything changed on 9/11. “I was working at the Fox News Channel Atlanta bureau, heading into the office. After the first tower was hit, they called us to be the backup to the New York broadcast. Then, I was called to drive to New York. Then, I was rerouted to D.C. after the Pentagon was hit. I was doing live reports outside the burning Pentagon, and I never left D.C. I started my stint in D.C. as the Fox national security correspondent about two weeks later, interviewing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.”
When Amy was working in Chicago, Bret’s best friend was dating her best friend—and those friends decided that Amy and Bret must meet, convinced that they’d hit it off. Bret and Amy, before locking eyes, weren’t so sure. Amy had enjoyed getting settled back in Chicago and wasn’t interested in long-distance dating someone on the East Coast. Bret was working constantly and didn’t think he had time for a relationship. But fate tugged at them, so Bret asked Amy to fly to meet him in D.C. for a Rolling Stones concert and she agreed. “I had zero expectations,” Amy recalls, “but I got back on the plane thinking I’d met someone very special. And when Bret dropped me off at the airport, he told his best friend, ‘I am going to marry her.’” After two years of long-distance dating, marriage was in the picture, and a power couple was born.
The Baiers spent a large part of the COVID-19 shutdown in Naples. The kids took their classes remotely, Amy enjoyed long walks on the beach with them, and Bret had a studio installed in their condo that looks as good as the one he broadcasts from in D.C. The Baier boys started the school year back in D.C., and the four flew to Naples in late November to celebrate Thanksgiving with their extended family. Prior to this Naples trip, Bret and the family attended his father William’s funeral on September 12. On October 9, Paul had an angioplasty, preparing for his fourth open-heart surgery on December 3. In the middle of all this, Amy and Bret celebrated their sixteenth anniversary, and oh yes, there was the presidential election.
Preparing for an election news cycle is intense for the anchor and executive editor of Special Report with Bret Baier. On Election Day, Bret was on set for 11 hours straight, powered by caffeine and adrenaline. Though he admits by day three of election week, “it started to feel like Groundhog Day.” By then, he was broadcasting for two hours in the morning, then two hours at night. He says he has a “great team, despite social media getting upset at our decision desk calls. We are where we are. It’s been a little surreal covering it all.”
Bret credits his mom for instilling a strong work ethic in him, having led by her own example. It’s competitive to get to his level, and he never forgets how it was in the early days. “I was bartending, delivering food, and working as a reporter. I’d knock on a door with a delivery, and they’d say, ‘Wait, are you the reporter on channel six?’ and I’d say, ‘Did you order the calzone?’”
Amy marvels at his ability to grind. “He never stops. He doesn’t just do his 6 p.m. show; he does other people’s shows. He is really gifted, you see it.”
Bret’s workdays start early. “To stay sharp, I read news online and four papers at the house,” he says. “Then I make calls. Having covered Washington, the Rolodex is large. I reach out to Democrats and Republicans and get great insight from them. It comes with experience, learning to sift through the noise. That’s my job, to cut through the noise as best as I can for the viewers.”
After a year like 2020, those in the news business are under more pressure than ever to siphon through the facts. “We live in a polarized society,” Bret says. “Social media is a bigger part of our lives, but there is lots of bad info swimming around. Sometimes, my job on the anchor desk is like being a hockey goalie. I’m trying to stop bad pucks from getting through. We need to be checking and double-checking things to make sure that you know it’s true. Also, if you make a mistake, own it right away and don’t let your pride get in the way of being a true journalist. It is so important now. It is very hard to provide both sides in a news show or in a paper. Our job is to have you walk away feeling like, ‘I have a good sense of what’s happening in the world.’”
His role models? “Brit Hume was my mentor. I watched Peter Jennings. Tim Russert, I aspire to be like him in some ways. He was one of the best interviewers. The best put on the breaks and follow up, then go down a road they didn’t know they were going on.”
In addition to broadcasting excellence, Bret pursues literary goals. “I have a fourth book in the pike,” he notes. Through his Three Days series, he takes deep dives into history, pondering why certain events are important to us now. “I’m addicted to history,” Bret jokes. After he hangs out with Amy and the boys at night, he’ll pour a glass of red wine and spend a couple hours on the computer. “I have a great co-author, and we pass stuff back and forth. We have our process down now, after having done a few books together. But you have to be disciplined.”
Not one to rest on his professional laurels, Bret has already landed some incredible interviews: President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump. On his wish list are Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis. “We’re trying to get the incoming President, so hopefully, that will come through soon,” he adds.
Despite Bret’s success and Amy’s glamour, their family is not immune to struggles—big ones. Paul was born with five congenital heart defects, which have required multiple angioplasties and a few open-heart surgeries over the years. “2020 was a challenging year for a lot of families, and our family is no different,” Bret says in a follow-up interview with NI. “In early December, Paul had his fourth open-heart surgery. We anxiously, breathlessly waited for any news during the 10-hour surgery. We were updated throughout, but Paul’s surgeon said it was one of the most complex surgeries he’s performed. The doctors and nurses at Children’s National did amazing work. Paul recovered fast, getting out of the hospital in just eight days.”
There is no underestimating how important Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., is to the Baiers. Amy stepped up to serve as chair of the foundation board for the past two years and has been a board member for 13 years. She spends at least 20 hours a week helping the foundation raise money. In April 2020, she was supposed to launch a $500-million campaign, but COVID-19 had other plans. This year, she’s co-hosting an event with Bret on February 13 at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, to raise money for Children’s National. The power pair recruited some of Fox News’ all-stars to appear on a panel to discuss life as insiders in Washington, D.C..
The Baiers both say, repeatedly, that they are blessed, despite the serious health issues that their son bravely faces with his deep faith. “We hope it will be Paul’s last open-heart surgery,” says Bret optimistically. “Paul has a warrior mindset, ‘Let’s rip the Band-Aid off so I can get back to golf in the spring.’ But he’s said before, ‘Why is this happening to me and not any of my friends?’ And that’s a tough question. Our answer is, ‘God has a plan for you, and you’re passing it with flying colors.’ We don’t know where we are going to go. So, we keep driving.” Reflecting on the lessons of the pandemic, he concludes, “If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that spending family time is the most important thing.”