It was a fateful night in Las Vegas.
Fox News anchor Bret Baier will never forget the moment he realized how farcical the 2016 election was, he revealed on Thursday in an interview with NBC’s Seth Myers.
He helped lead the network’s coverage of the third presidential debate on Oct. 19 ― the “bad hombres” night ― alongside Fox anchors Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly, when Donald Trump faced off against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in Las Vegas.
“I asked a question about civility,” Baier said. “We were talking about Marco Rubio and what he was saying on the trail about Donald Trump. Donald Trump said ‘Little Marco has been making fun of my hands and look at this, my hands are big and that’s not only what’s big.’ And I turned to Chris Wallace and I said, ‘OK, moving on.’”
At that moment, he said, he knew the race had escalated to new heights.
“We had gone from talking about politics to genitalia,” Baier said. “Something had changed.”
Baier and his colleagues even turned the election into a betting game, he said.
His show, “Special Report,” created a segment early on in the race called “Candidate Casino” to have panelists bet on who would win the nomination for each party, he said.
“So I gave them $100 in chips and they all had to bet every show, every Friday,” he explained.
Trump repeatedly asked him about the chips in between interviews, he said.
“Before we started the interview [Trump] said, ‘Can you please tell me why [political commentator] Charles Krauthammer is only giving me $25 in chips?’ And later he said, ‘[journalist] Steve Hayes is a loser because he’s only given me $10 in chips,’” Baier said.
When Trump did win the nomination, he told Baier, “I got all the black chips.”
Baier also commented on Trump’s frequent and incendiary Twitter habits.
“He does effectively take the media on a ride sometimes to say ‘Look at the shiny thing over here’ in 140 characters or less,” he said.
Now that Trump is the president-elect, he added, everything he says is news, making journalists’ jobs more challenging. He said he will make it a point to also focus on covering policy.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that the third presidential debate took place in Detroit. It was held in Las Vegas.