Graeme Roustan: How much do your boys, Daniel and Paul, miss hockey right now?
Bret Baier: So much. Daniel is the hockey player, he’s a squirt on the A-team at Chevy Chase (Md.), had a great season. Fortunately, they had wrapped up, but he was getting ready for spring hockey. So we were ready to get involved in that. Paul doesn’t play hockey, he’s a basketball player and golfer, but he is a major Capitals fan, and we were going to all kinds of games. We were looking forward to the playoffs. So they’re missing it a great deal, and I miss it...I would love it to just be on TV, you know? I miss sports in general, but hockey in particular.
GR: I’m sure our mutual friend Ted Leonsis appreciates that you and your family are big Washington Capitals fans. Can you tell us when you started rooting for the Caps?
BB: I think I brought them when they were, like, four and five, to their early games. And then I became a season-ticket holder probably eight years ago. And then, obviously, the Stanley Cup season, we were enthralled, and I happened to go with my buddies to Vegas for Game 5, where they ended up winning the Cup against the Golden Knights. And that’s just a great moment that I’ll always remember. So then I became a Caps fan forever. So my kids, my wife, Amy, we go to as many games as we can, and we’re right there, cheering all the time.
GR: In a time like this, how important is it for sports like hockey and basketball, and perhaps your favorite, golf, to get back in front of us all?
BB: I think it’s the national catharsis. It’s the thing that is the salve that kind of calms everybody down. People get really worried if you start cutting off sports. So I think it’s going to be one of the priorities to get some of these games going, after all the people are tested and the people playing are all good, and then you broadcast it. And at least that would be something that people could look forward to. It’s a tough time.
GR: With your family health issues, especially surrounding your son Paul, how does this time that we’re in right now affect the way you protect your own family?
BB: It’s something that does hit home because Paul has a vulnerability here. He’s had three open-heart surgeries and nine angioplasties, and we’ve been fighting that congenital heart disease battle since he was born. So there’s a sensitivity. We spent a lot of time in children’s hospitals, and his heart is beating now, he doesn’t have any drawbacks as far as his ability to be the center of the basketball team or play on the golf team. But the fear is that we don’t know about this (COVID-19) disease. And we know while it hits the older folks more in proportion and percentage, it also hits vulnerable folks, and it could hit kids who may be vulnerable. So yes, we’re extra careful. We’ve stocked up on hand sanitizer, and we’re big on washing hands, and we’re limiting our contact with other folks. I’m doing my show remotely. We’re taking a lot of precautions.
GR: You’ve done at least a dozen trips to both Afghanistan and Iraq as a correspondent, so you’ve been in the middle of war zones all around the world as a reporter. Today, some people say that the United States, and the world, are in a different type of a war zone right now. What did you learn as a correspondent in war zones that is similar today?
BB: That’s a good question. I think the one thing I learned is that America is the best place to live in the world, and we should feel really blessed and express gratitude all the time that we live here. I reported from 74 countries over my time at the Pentagon and the White House. And the other thing I learned is the amazing ability of the U.S. military, the men and women in uniform. So if we, as a country, put our mind to something, we can do whatever we want to do. And this is the thing that we’re going to have to get through. And there’s going to be innovation, there’s going to be public-private efforts with businesses, but the military is going to play a role as well. You see that already with the Army Corps of Engineers building hospitals outside New York and Seattle and other places. So I’m optimistic about our ability to get through even the darkest times. And this is a dark time.
GR: It’s well-documented that you’ve raised tens of millions of dollars for the Children’s Hospital Foundation. You’ve been doing it for many, many years, but now hospitals are in a crisis mode. When things get back to normal, these hospitals are going to be drained of resources. What kind of effort are you and your team going to put in to support the Children’s Hospital Foundation going forward?
BB: We’re 100-percent in. My wife, Amy, is actually the chair of the Children’s Foundation board, so she’s right in the middle of it, day to day, doing conference calls about concerns, about making ends meet and making sure that they have everything covered. So we will redouble our efforts to raise even more money. Places like Children’s National operate a lot on donations. We’ve been the beneficiary of it, so we’ve decided that’s our charity. So we will step that up. I do think that as a country we’re going to see a lot of outpouring of not only support financially but of time and effort. We try to end the show every night with three or four stories of communities coming together. And one of the ways to do that is to support these medical personnel and these hospitals that are going through tough times.
GR: You’ve been vocal lately in your own quest to “lose 50 before 50.” What do you want to tell all those athletes out there, because you’re an athlete, what they should be doing while this crisis is going on?
BB: (Laughs) Well, I’m sure that they’ve got their own equation. I mean, it’s easy to sit around the TV and just eat snacks, and then get to the end of the day and pop open a bottle of wine. But I think getting out and about. Moving and coming up with some routine is really a good thing. I am trying to drop those pounds before Aug. 4th, my 50th birthday. I’m down about 11, so I’m getting there, but I’ll tell you, COVID-19’s not helping my effort. I gotta stay on the track. I guess what I would say to folks is, take this as an opportunity. It’s pretty rare that we, as a country, collectively, are going through the same thing. And your family, take an opportunity to reconnect, to have different conversations, to have different moments, to go for those walks. You have the time now.
GR: What can you say to your international audience of your show about the big picture?
BB: We’re all in this together. Because this virus does not see borders, it does not see race, it does not see gender. It is all-encompassing. And so every country is dealing with it. And we, collectively, have to find a way through it. I think technology and science and the medical experts out there in every country are working double-time to try and get to an answer. And somebody is going to break through, and it’s going to change the dynamic. But it does bring us closer if everybody’s dealing with the same thing, internationally or here in America.
GR: Bret, thanks for doing this. I’ll see you at the next Caps game, how about that?
BB: My buddy John Carlson is with his little kids, and I just talked to him. He can’t wait to get back on the ice, trust me. So I can’t wait to watch him when that happens.