Gayle King and the journalists at CBS This Morning on Tuesday grilled Fox News anchor Bret Baier about the departure of Shepard Smith from the network, baiting him to divine what exactly Smith meant when he said that the “truth will always matter.”
Appearing to talk about his latest historical book, co-host Tony Dokoupil highlighted, “I think it surprised a lot of people at the network. [Smith] said in his closing remarks, ‘The truth will always matter.’ What was your reaction?”
After failing to get an appropriate knock on Fox News, King demanded, “But I want to go back to Shep for a second. To Tony’s point, when he said the truth will always matter, that seemed to be taking a dig at your network. Was it interpreted as such inside the building?”
Now, holding one journalist to account for the comments of another isn’t a common thing for the hosts of CBS This Morning. On October 14, the journalists talked to Ronan Farrow about his accusations that NBC buried the effort to investigate Matt Lauer.
King suggested Farrow might have an “ax to grind.”
The bulk of the book is about your efforts to tell the Harvey Weinstein story and in the end NBC killed the story saying it didn't reach their level of journalism. How do we know that this is not just — they're saying it's an axe to grind on your part.
Speaking of networks and truth, on May 3, 2018, after the Charlie Rose sex abuse scandal surfaced, King whined on-air about having to cover her ex-co-host: “I don't know what to say about this.... I don't know what more we can do to Charlie Rose except a public flogging. He's gone.... I’m sick of handling it.” After a public outcry, she retreated.
CBS This Morning
[Talking about Bret Baier’s new book on World War II.]
GAYLE KING: You also write in the book that FDR thought the best way to get to Stalin on his side was by making fun of Churchill.
BRET BAIER: Right. Because he was so —
KING: Does that tactic sound familiar? But answer that question and say does that sound familiar to you? Is it effective?
BAIER: FDR had fireside chats on the radio. That was his Twitter. FDR believed that he had to have Stalin in the war, and part of that was to make sure he felt comfortable, Stalin, that Churchill and FDR were not ganging up on him.
TONY DOKOUPIL: Speaking of journalists, you lost a key journalist recently, Shep Smith stepped down. I think it surprised a lot of people at the network. He said in his closing remarks, "The truth will always matter." What was your reaction?
BAIER: Well, it was a surprise. Shep was a friend. I worked with him for 23 years. One of my first assignments was alongside Shep.
KING: It was a surprise to you, too?
BAIER: Oh, yeah. Big surprise. But it was his decision. He was by far the best at breaking news coverage I'd ever seen. It was his call. What I'm happy about is the 3 PM hour is going to be a news hour. And they've committed to being a news program. I'm going to go in for a week in a couple of weeks and will do my turn in the anchor chair.
KING: But I want to go back to Shep for a second. To Tony’s point, when he said the truth will always matter, that seemed to be taking a dig at your network. Was it interpreted as such inside the building?
BAIER: It was his decision. I'm not going to speak for Shep.
KING: That's not speaking for Shep. I'm wondering how you guys interpreted that. I know it was his decision. Did you think he was taking a dig at us as he is walking out the door?
BAIER: He's concerned about coverage, journalistic coverage. I think he was proud of the news division at Fox. There's always an opinion side, too. And me made a choice to leave. I'm happy that the show is going to be all news, and we'll be — we'll be in the circle.
ANTHONY MASON: The President has been critical of Fox recently.
BAIER: He has.
MASON: Not a position you've typically been in.
BAIER: Oh, I have. I've been on the back end of a couple of tweets.
BAIER: I've been trying to get an interview again since — since Singapore, last time I had an interview with the President.
MASON: How did you take the President’s criticism?
BAIER: In stride. I think it's part of the deal, as you guys know. Listen, we're trying to call balls and strikes. If we can do that every day, be fair to him, but also cover the news fairly to all sides, that's what I'm trying to do.
DOKOUPIL: When he calls journalists the enemy of the people, is that something that you feel endangers the press?
BAIER: I think it's a problem. I don't love that — that's a bad phrase. I think it's we're all trying to do our job.