In a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times, former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace explained his decision to leave the conservative network last December after 18 years. “Before, I found it was an environment in which I could do my job and feel good about my involvement at Fox,” Wallace told media correspondent Michael Grynbaum. “And since November of 2020, that just became unsustainable, increasingly unsustainable as time went on.”
Wallace brought to Fox News a certain degree of journalistic gravitas throughout his tenure. Moderating presidential debates and hosting the network’s flagship political talk show “Fox News Sunday,” he was considered a more middle-of-the-road presence. Especially in contrast with his colleagues, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, who became more stridently right-wing during the years of Donald Trump’s presidency. “I just no longer felt comfortable with the programming at Fox,” Wallace said in his interview.
“Some people might have drawn the line earlier, or at a different point,” he acknowledged. “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.’”
The 74-year-old anchor did not retire from journalism, however, but instead moved to rival network CNN, where his new daily talk show, “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” will debut this coming week. As the Times explains:
But Mr. Wallace also acknowledged that he felt a shift at Fox News in the months after Donald J. Trump’s defeat in 2020—a period when the channel ended its 7 p.m. newscast, fired the political editor who helped project a Trump loss in Arizona on election night and promoted hosts like Mr. Carlson who downplayed the Jan. 6 riot.
He confirmed reports that he was so alarmed by Mr. Carlson’s documentary “Patriot Purge” — which falsely suggested the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was a “false flag” operation intended to demonize conservatives—that he complained directly to Fox News management.
Not that it seemed to have mattered much. “I’m fine with opinion: conservative opinion, liberal opinion,” Wallace said. “But when people start to question the truth—Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection?—I found that unsustainable.”