Ron Burgundy is the famous anchorman for a local San Diego television station, fictional KVWN channel 4. He works alongside his friends, whom he had known since childhood, on the news team: lead field reporter Brian Fantana, sportscaster Champ Kind, and meteorologist Brick Tamland. Station director Ed Harken informs the team that they have retained their long-held status as the highest-rated news program in San Diego, leading them to throw a wild party, where Burgundy unsuccessfully attempts to pick up a beautiful blonde woman, Veronica Corningstone. Harken later informs the team that they have been forced to hire Corningstone. After a series of unsuccessful attempts by the team to seduce her, she finally relents and agrees to a "professional tour" of the city with Ron, culminating in a sexual relationship. Despite agreeing to keep the relationship discreet, Ron announces it on air.
After a dispute with a motorcyclist ends in Burgundy's dog Baxter being punted off the San Diego–Coronado Bridge, Burgundy is late to work. Corningstone fills in for him on-air, receiving higher ratings than Burgundy usually receives, and the couple breaks up when Ron bemoans her success. Corningstone is promoted to co-anchor, to the disgust of the team. The co-anchors become fierce rivals off-air while maintaining a phony cordiality on-air. Depressed, the news team decides to buy new suits, but Brick, who was leading the way, gets them lost in a shady part of town. Confronted by main competitor Wes Mantooth and his news team, Burgundy challenges them to a fight. When several other news teams converge onsite, a full-on melee ensues, only to be broken up by police sirens that cause them to flee. Realizing that having a female co-anchor is straining their reputation, Burgundy gets in another heated argument with Veronica, and they get in a physical fight after she offends him about his hair.
One of Veronica's co-workers informs her that Burgundy will read anything written on the teleprompter, so she sneaks into the station and changes the text in revenge. The next day, Burgundy (unaware of what he is saying) concludes the broadcast with "Go fuck yourself, San Diego!", instead of his signature closing line, "You stay classy, San Diego!", triggering an angry mob outside the studio and prompting Ed to fire Burgundy. Realizing she went too far, Corningstone attempts to apologize but Burgundy angrily dismisses her apology. Burgundy soon becomes unemployed, friendless, and heavily antagonized by the public while Veronica enjoys fame, although her male co-workers hate her. Ed also informs Brian, Champ and Brick that if they see Ron, he will fire them if they talk to him.
Three months later, when a panda is about to give birth, every news team in San Diego rushes to the zoo to cover the story. In an attempt to sabotage her, a rival news anchor pushes Corningstone into a Kodiak bear enclosure. When Ed is unable to locate Veronica, he recruits Burgundy. Once at the zoo, Burgundy jumps in the bear pen to save Veronica, as the public watches helplessly. The news team then jumps in to save Ron and Veronica. Just as a bear is about to attack, Baxter, who miraculously survived, intervenes and encourages the bear to spare them. As the group climbs out of the pit, Wes appears and holds the ladder over the bear pit, threatening to drop Ron back in, and says that deep down he has always hated him, but then admits to Ron that he also respects him and pulls Ron out to safety.
After Burgundy and Corningstone reconcile, it is shown that in years to come, Fantana becomes the host of a Fox reality show named Intercourse Island, Tamland is married with 11 children and is a top political adviser to George W. Bush, Kind is a commentator for the NFL before getting fired after being accused by Terry Bradshaw of sexual harassment, and Burgundy and Corningstone are co-anchors for the CNN-esque World News Center.