When asked recently by CNN’s Brian Stelter about the scarcity of press conferences hosted by Hillary Clinton, Brian Fallon, the campaign’s press secretary, responded, “We realize the need to be accessible and responsive to questions.”
This evening, Clinton will be accessible to Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who will interview the presumptive Democratic nominee on his program “Special Report” at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Baier also interviewed Clinton back in March at a Democratic presidential town hall meeting that included rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as well. When Clinton was on tour for her book “Hard Choices” in 2014, she appeared with Baier and Greta Van Susteren for a Benghazi-heavy interview.
The timing of this Clinton-Baier session comes straight from the General Election Pivot Handbook. Despite her appearance at the town hall event, Clinton has been hard to find in one-on-one opportunities on Fox News, whereas she has appeared far more frequently on other networks. In an April interview with the Erik Wemple Blog, Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri remarked that Clinton “enjoyed” her town-hall experience, but her low exposure on other Fox News shows stemmed from campaign strategy: “We’re in the middle of a string of contests in the Democratic primary, so our focus is on Democratic voters,” said Palmieri. Now that Clinton is headed toward the general election, she’s presumably getting more aggressive vis-a-vis the Fox News audience, which is big on conservatives but also contains a significant slice of independents/moderates.
“We’ll certainly do more with Fox,” Palmieri said in April.
Though the interview presents opportunities both for the Clinton campaign and Fox News, Baier has cause for anxiety. He and Van Susteren, after all, took a beating on social media over their allegedly “softball” questions to Clinton in the June 2014 sit-down. Given that experience, it’s unlikely that Baier will serve up what CNN’s Jake Tapper termed the “ridiculously sycophantic” inquiries that Clinton fielded at a press availability in advance of Tuesday’s primary races.