It was big news in Washington's media world last week when Fox Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief Kim Hume announced she was retiring at the end of November. She and hubby Brit Hume set up the bureau in 1996 and have watched it become a dominant cable bureau. Now she's leaving to take time off to figure out her next move. And, she swears, it was her choice.
Paullyblog: When are you leaving?
Hume: I'll be here through the end of November.
Hume: I am very peaceful about this. When I made the decision in May I didn't know how I would actually react, and I've surprised myself.
Paullyblog: So you're going to leave Brit and marry whom?
Hume: (Laughs) No, no, no. Do you know what my favorite thing about this? You know how in Washington they always say it's because they're going to spend more time with their family? Well, I've always wanted to say I'm leaving Fox to spend less time with my family.
Paullyblog: What's the future?
Hume: I've always been so intense in this job. I'm the kind of person who wakes up at 3 a.m. and says, "You know, we have got to do something for that producer. He's so good, and we need to move him." I'm constantly thinking about this place. And I really feel like I'm going to need to get away from it and rest for a bit before I figure out what my next step is. The way I look at it is you know how some people can look beyond the furnishings to some newly decorated room? I can't do that. I need to get away. Once I have some time away, I think I'll do something. I just don't know yet what it is. When I was a producer, I thought I'm never going to be able to translate this to any other kind of thing. The only thing I've ever done is TV. And when I became a manager, and I seem to have some talent at managing, then I thought, ah, this is a skill that translates. I've got something more to do; I just don't know what it is yet.
Paullyblog: In the media?
Hume: I really don't even know. Clearly, the only thing I know is media. But I honest to God don't know.
Paullyblog: You're leaving because?
Hume: I'm done. I know that sounds really amazing. When I think about it, that's the phrase that comes to mind, is that "I'm done." Also, I've had this wonderful career and Fox has been the pinnacle of it. I have one thing left to do and that was to finish well, and that's really what I'm trying to do here, to finish well.
Paullyblog: So you won't be joining former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan bringing good news to the Internet?
Hume: No, although I think the Internet is a fascinating thing and I think the whole YouTube thing is fascinating. But I feel like a dinosaur. I couldn't figure that out. I've got one foot in the grave when it comes to that.
Paullyblog: This is a pretty big move for you, but it's got to be a pretty big blow for the bureau.
Hume: Well, this is how I think about that. I have always been a good delegator and I have always been the kind of person who let other people make decisions. I've got a terrific team here, a management team, and all the journalists who work here, everybody from the person who answers the phone on up, are terrific. But the management team is completely able to take over. They don't need me. I may be an important part of the management in the sense of leadership and guidance, direction, that kind of thing, [but] I am not an essential employee. I may be important, but I'm not essential. I think they'll be just fine. I don't think they'll miss me for long.
Paullyblog: It's the business, isn't it?
Paullyblog: So you are staying through the 10th anniversary of Fox?
Hume: Yes, I'm going to be here through the end of November. This is kind of funny, but I promised that I would work on Thanksgiving so that my deputy, who is now going to be the acting bureau chief, can have Thanksgiving off. So I'm going to be here through Thanksgiving.
Paullyblog: Aren't you sweet?
Hume: Well, when you make a promise, what am I going to do, say hey, buddy, sorry? Breaking that promiseit's not my way.
Paullyblog: So what happened in May, and what was Brit's reaction?
Hume: May was my own internal deadline, because my contract was up at the end of June. It was the fair thing to give them notice. If I decided that I wasn't going to renew my contract I wanted to give them plenty of notice to think about how they would replace me. And I did, and the initial reaction was please stay through the election, and I said no problem, I'm happy to do that.
As you search, here was this point where I had to make a decision about my renewing my contract, and I just asked myself a question and the answer was I think you're done. And that's really what it was. I thought it would be a big seismic, emotional, upsetting thing and it wasn't at all. It just seemed like the right thing to do from the beginning.
And Brit's reaction: Initially Brit tried to talk me out of this. He and I have been working together for decades; we would read each other's minds; we're a team. He tried to talk me out of it. And then I think he recognized that "I'm done" thing. He knew it was a decision that was not defiant in any way or done in anger in any way or for any reason. I just knew it was the right thing to do. He gets husband points galore for this. I mean, he has been so good about this, so kind to me about it. I really do think if it was the other way around, I would be really mad at him. But it's not and he's not mad at me.
Paullyblog: Would you ever go to work for another competing cable channel?
Hume: I really respect what Fox has done and I really like the idea of running counter to the mainstream media. I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's good for the viewers. I think it gives people an alternative. I so respect that. I think it would be very hard for me to go back to; I worked at ABC for years and years and years, and I respect ABC too. But I might move forward in some way, but I don't think that I would return to a network situation.
To me, clearly I'll do something. I've got a lot of energy and ideas, and I've always been that way and I don't think I'd be that happy recreating if you willmaybe. But I think that there will be something else that I do, and I think when it comes it will find me. That's been my experience in the past.
Paullyblog: Anything else?
Hume: The only thing is as I said when most times something like this happens, people say things and there's always a back story. And in this case there really isn't. It really is someone who's lucky enough to be able to make the decision that now is the time. I want to finish well, and this is the opportunity to do it. I'm at the top of my career, and Fox is at the top of its success, and to be able to say isn't this great, and I've had so much fun and I'm done.
Paullyblog: How old are you?
Hume: September 30 I'll be 52.
Paullyblog: What's the first thing you're going to do on your first day off?
Hume: This is going to sound weird, but I'll probably bake cookies.
Paullyblog: What kind?
Hume: I do this thing at Christmas where I do this amazing array of cookies. All my career I've had to do this, sometimes baking until three in the morning. During the recount, the 2000 recount, I had the radio on, the television on, and I'm sitting in my kitchen baking cookies — my cookies are famous. I couldn't not bake them. I couldn't use an excuse. So what I think is that I've got December where I can bake my Christmas cookies at leisure. I know this sounds stupid, but you have no idea how good that sounds to me.
Paullyblog: Hume's Bakery?
Hume: Believe me, if I could make money doing that, I'd do it in a second.