Chris Wallace no longer fit in as the 'Tucker Carlson Channel' descended into 'anti-democratic madness': media critic
On the December 12 broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace announced that he was leaving the cable news channel after 18 years. The 74-year-old Wallace, who was often hailed as a voice of reason on Fox News, will be moving to CNN’s streaming service CNN Plus. Wallace said nothing negative about Fox News when announcing his departure, but Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, in his December 12 column, stresses that Wallace simply didn’t fit in at “the Tucker Carlson channel.”
Wallace told viewers, “After 18 years, this is my final ‘Fox News Sunday.’ It is the last time — and I say this with real sadness — we will meet like this. Eighteen years ago, the bosses here at Fox promised me they would never interfere with a guest I booked or a question I asked. And they kept that promise. I have been free to report to the best of my ability, to cover the stories I think are important, to hold our country’s leaders to account. It’s been a great ride.”
Chris Wallace's big surprise at the end of today's @FoxNewsSunday: He's leaving, effective immediately.pic.twitter.com/S1ON6JkTXx— Brian Stelter (@Brian Stelter) 1639321702
Chris Wallace signed a four-year deal with Fox back in 2017. His contract was expiring this year, and he decided to leave. "Fox News Sunday" will have rotating hosts for the time being.— Brian Stelter (@Brian Stelter) 1639322058
But according to Wemple, what Wallace didn’t say during his December 12 farewell speaks volumes about Fox News’ direction.
“Omitted from the sayonara was any celebration of the broader Fox News product,” Wemple explains. “Perhaps that’s because there’s not much to celebrate. In the last year of Chris Wallace’s tenure at Fox News, he’s had to watch as his colleagues on the opinion side of the network buttressed and amplified the ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.”
Wemple notes that Wallace and colleague Bret Baier, according to National Public Radio, voiced concerns to Fox News executives about “Patriot Purge” — Tucker Carlson’s widely criticized special on the January 6 insurrection. Carlson’s series, Wemple points out, “pushed the idea that the January 6 rioters are victims, not perpetrators.”
“It’s unclear what impact, if any, the feedback effected,” Wemple observes. “What is clear is that the network has found its voice in Carlson, a longtime pundit who, for years, bounced around the margins of cable news. He was serving as a weekend host at Fox News in late 2016 when a prime-time slot opened up. Ever since then, his extremism — telling viewers that Democrats ‘hate’ America, espousing the racist ‘Replacement Theory,’ subverting science on the coronavirus — has emerged as the network’s defining ideology, a point of reckoning for colleagues wishing to practice anything approximating journalism.”
Although Wallace leans to the right politically, he was never a knee-jerk Trump defender — unlike Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Jeanine Pirro and other far-right voices at Fox News. Wallace, on “Fox News Sunday,” wasn’t shy about asking tough questions whether the guest was Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki or President Joe Biden.
Wemple points out that Wallace isn’t the only sensible person to depart Fox News during its “descent into anti-democratic Carlsonian madness.”
The columnist observes, “Two moderate conservative commentators — Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg — resigned last month over ‘Patriot Purge.’ Fox News last January fired longtime political analyst Chris Stirewalt, who showed the temerity to mock the former president’s absurd claims of electoral fraud. And don’t forget the departure of news anchor Shepard Smith, who left — also abruptly — in October 2019 following a tiff with Carlson that played out on-air. Every day, in other words, Fox News takes another step toward its destiny as The Tucker Carlson Channel. And in that future, there’s no room for journalists.”
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