Chris Wallace: Working at Fox had become ‘unsustainable’
Former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace shed light on his reason for leaving the network late last year, saying it had grown increasingly difficult to reconcile some of the opinions being expressed by its top hosts.
“I just no longer felt comfortable with the programming at Fox,” Wallace told The New York Times in his first interview since his departure. “I’m fine with opinion: conservative opinion, liberal opinion … But when people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable.”
Wallace, who was an anchor at Fox News for decades, hosting “Fox News Sunday” and moderating several presidential debates — sent shock waves through the political media landscape in December when he announced he would be leaving his job at the cable news giant.
Hours after his announcement, CNN revealed Wallace would be joining its new streaming service, CNN+, which launches this week. The streaming service will feature a number of news and feature shows from CNN’s top talent, including a sit-down interview-style program hosted by Wallace.
In the interview with the Times, Wallace confirmed reports that he had grown uncomfortable with comments and segments from leading Fox hosts about the 2020 presidential election and Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Trump.
“Before, I found it was an environment in which I could do my job and feel good about my involvement at Fox,” Wallace said. “And since November of 2020, that just became unsustainable, increasingly unsustainable as time went on.”
Fox, Wallace added, has “changed” over the last year and a half.
“Some people might have drawn the line earlier, or at a different point,” he said. “I think Fox has changed over the course of the last year and a half. But I can certainly understand where somebody would say, ‘Gee, you were a slow learner, Chris.’ ”
Wallace has also criticized other cable news channels in recent months, telling the Financial Times last November other networks participate in the “same kind of feedback loop,” as Fox, adding large cable news companies wouldn’t be putting partisan opinion programing on the air “if there weren’t a market for it.”
The launch of CNN’s streaming service comes during a time of change in its leadership and ownership.
Former network President Jeff Zucker was forced to resign last month following revelations of a romantic relationship he was having with a coworker and an ethics scandal involving prime-time anchor Chris Cuomo. CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, is currently undergoing a massive merger with media conglomerate Discovery, which appointed former “Late Show” executive producer and “Morning Joe” visionary Chris Licht as CNN’s new president.
Wallace called the circumstances surrounding the departure of Zucker “not ideal” and confirmed he had spent “a lot of 2021 looking to see if there was a different place for me to do my job,” before being hired by the former CNN boss.
“I wanted to get out of politics,” Wallace said. “Doing a Sunday show on the incremental change from week to week in the Build Back Better plan began to lose its attraction.”
Updated at 11:54 a.m.