“I looked pretty puffy on the air . . . pleasantly plump,” he says.
Photo comparisons confirm his self-assessment.
“This is August 1st in California,” he says, pointing to a photo of himself with a noticeably rounder face. “This is September 3rd at the [Democratic] convention. And here is Denver just before the debate. It’s funny, isn’t it?”
He smiles, revealing a newly discovered set of cheekbones.
Before the newsman started rapidly shedding pounds three months ago, Baier, 42, the host of Fox News’s eponymous “Special Report With Bret Baier,” was clinically overweight, an anomaly in an industry where hard bodies typically report hard news.
“I’m lucky,” he concedes. “I’ve always held my weight well for TV.”
On Tuesday night, when he co-
anchors Fox News’s election night coverage alongside the always-svelte anchor Megyn Kelly, he’ll announce political victory while privately celebrating a personal one. He now weighs less than 200 pounds, on track to have lost 45 pounds in three months. And he embarked on this weight-loss challenge in the final throes of campaign season, when traveling political reporters typically pack on the pounds thanks to deep-fried county-fair food, pizza binges and late-night restaurant fare. Because of his new physique, he’s having many of his Hickey Freeman suits taken in. He’s lost more than five inches in his waist alone.
“I feel proud of this guy,” says Baier, pointing to a recent image of his slimmed-down self. “But I do think, ‘Wow, I spent a long time as this other guy.’ How could I stay like this for so long?”
Struggling with weight
A yo-yo dieter since his college days, Baier has struggled with weight in front of the camera for 15 years. He’s always been the big guy at Fox, assigned to cover issues that propelled him to the anchor’s chair: 11 trips to Afghanistan, 13 to Iraq. Reports from Kosovo, Cuba, the Pentagon, even as his 5-foot-11-inch frame teetered close to 260 pounds.
“To their credit, no one at Fox has ever told me to lose weight,” Baier says.
Whether women are given the same clemency is debatable. Recently, a Wisconsin-based local television reporter, Jennifer Livingston, gained YouTube fame after chastising a viewer on-air for criticizing her weight. Baier sympathizes with Livingston, admitting that viewers routinely e-mail him about his appearance.
“There’s a nice little local blog that kept track” of my weight, he says. He pauses. “They said some interesting things, like ‘Try a salad.’ You get the message.”
Perhaps Baier’s appearance makes him the relatable face at the network. After all, as many as 100 million Americans try to lose weight every year. That’s more than watch cable news.
Some of his 2.5 million daily viewers are commenting on his progress: “Some have said: ‘You look great! What’s your secret?’ Others say: ‘Are you okay? Are you healthy?’ ”