With the announcement that he would be joining CNN, Fox News lost its most accomplished down-the-middle journalist at a time when stridently conservative personalities like Tucker Carlson have increasingly dictated the channel’s narrative. Wallace has been a fixture on the network since its inception in 2002.
In the ratings, the network has jumped well ahead of CNN and MSNBC, thanks to an increased slate of right-wing commentary that denounces President Biden while defending former President Donald J. Trump, among others. However, some employees of the station’s journalists have expressed concern over programming that has given credence to vaccination doubters or emphasised conspiracy theories surrounding the Capitol incident on January 6.
“Patriot Purge,” a recent documentary from Mr. Carlson in which he made the incorrect assertion that the riot was a “false flag” operation designed to discredit members of the political right, piqued Mr. Wallace’s interest, and he voiced his concerns to Fox News management. The anchor’s concerns, which were originally reported by NPR, were corroborated on Sunday by two sources who asked to remain anonymous in order to disclose private conversations.
In December, his contract as host of “Fox News Sunday” expired, and three people familiar with his thinking said he considered a number of factors before making the decision to leave. One of those factors was a desire for a broader range of experiences outside of politics in areas such as business, sports, and entertainment. Beginning next year, he will lead an interview show on CNN+, a new digital streaming channel that will replace CNN.
He follows in the footsteps of other Fox News journalists, such as Shepard Smith and Kristin Fisher, who have departed the network. Liberal Juan Williams was booted from his seat on the network’s afternoon chat programme, “The Five,” while Democratic analyst Donna Brazile departed Fox News for ABC in May, according to media reports. Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, two conservative commentators, resigned from their positions last month in protest of Mr. Carlson’s programme.
He also expressed his appreciation for Fox News, which has been his home since 2003. According to Mr. Wallace, “the managers here at Fox guaranteed me that they would never interfere with any guests I scheduled or any questions or inquiries I asked, and they kept their word.” In my leisure time, I have been able to report to the best of my abilities, cover the issues that I believe are essential, and hold our country’s leaders accountable.”
In addition to Bret Baier, who now broadcasts the network’s 6 p.m. programme, other likely replacements include Neil Cavuto, John Roberts, and Dana Perino, among others. While Mr. Wallace’s departure leaves a void on Fox News’ reportorial side, the network still has a number of notable journalists on its staff, including Congressional reporter Chad Pergram and Jerusalem-based correspondent Trey Yingst, among others.
Mr. Carlson, the network’s biggest star, is the network’s top-rated host, not just on Fox News but across all of cable news, and he has strong backing from the network’s upper management. Neither Fox News nor Mr. Carlson have responded to the issue surrounding “Patriot Purge,” which is one of many films that he is currently working on.
Internal disagreements about Mr. Carlson’s special, on the other hand, have spilled into the open. “I’m wondering how much is done to provoke, rather than enlighten,” Geraldo Rivera, host of Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera Show, told The New York Times in October. “I’m wondering how much is done to provoke, rather than illuminate,” he said.
A tremendous triumph for Fox News, both in terms of ad sales and Nielsen ratings, the network’s turn has been a great success. In November, Fox News broadcasts accounted for 71 of the top 100 telecasts on all of cable television, according to Nielsen ratings.
Following Mr. Trump’s loss in the election in November, Fox News saw a temporary drop in viewership. When the network’s anchors announced that President Joe Biden would be the next president, many of the network’s fans expressed displeasure, and some switched to the more hard-edged right-wing network Newsmax, which saw an increase in viewership.
Mr. Wallace was a former White House reporter for NBC News, and he had a reputation for causing presidents annoyance. Bill Clinton said that he had a “little sneer on your face,” Barack Obama avoided him for eight years, and Mr. Trump often attacked him on Twitter, comparing him negatively to his father, “60 Minutes” anchor Mike Wallace, who was killed in a plane crash in 2009.
CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, has been attempting to recruit top-tier talent — like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow — to his new streaming service, which media observers say will be vital to the channel’s long-term viability as consumers migrate away from conventional television. Mr. Wallace is a “huge get,” to use a phrase from the financial world.
According to Mr. Zucker, “It is not often that a news company has the chance to bring someone of Chris Wallace’s quality on board,” according to a statement released on Sunday. Following a humiliating situation for CNN, which saw its top-rated host Chris Cuomo sacked due to ethical issues, the network has made the decision to hire Cuomo.
On his farewell Fox News show, Mr. Wallace expressed “genuine anguish” at the fact that his stint with the network was coming to an end.