01/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Brit Hume Gets Ready To Step Down At Fox News

During his dozen years as the anchor of Fox News' flagship nightly political newscast, "Special Report," Brit Hume has always managed to convey a certain seriousness and gravitas -- even as viewers of a liberal bent scoffed at his cable network's claim to be "fair and balanced."

But during a recent wide-ranging telephone interview to discuss his upcoming retirement, the 32-year television veteran seemed positively giddy when asked how he felt while anchoring his last election-night broadcast on Fox -- during which a Democrat won the White House. In one newspaper report he was described as looking like "the world's most depressed Bassett hound."

"I don't think any reasonable person who watched that would have come to that conclusion," Hume sputtered, seemingly caught between amusement and outrage. "We had a rollicking broadcast. We had more fun that night -- we went in with the attitude that we were going to have a great time and we did."

Now Hume, 65, is ready to let someone else have all the fun, or at least most of it. He's stepping down as anchor of "Special Report," although he'll still be on the air for about 100 days a year, serving as a senior political analyst, anchor for special events, panelist on "Fox News Sunday" and occasional substitute for its host, Chris Wallace.

Hume, whose "Special Report" is the highest-rated political program on cable television, is, quite frankly, exhausted. "If you're doing a one-hour program on a cable channel and trying to keep the quality up, you work very hard, the days are long and it's an intense competitive business, and it wears you down."

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