If a petrified stump of wood from the gone-forever dominant media glory days falls on his face on a network nobody watches, does it make a sound?
The ratings are in on the debut episode of former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace’s new CNN interview show, and they’re pretty much as expected. The unique corporate synergy that ties Fox’s swampish brand of conservative-flavored news presentation as personified by the likes of Wallace, Bret Baier and Shepard Smith (remember him?) to we-went-too-woke CNN’s cratering platform has resulted in absolute viewer indifference. Who could have ever seen that coming?
Out of Touch and Out of Viewers
The New York Post on Sept. 27 ran off the dismal numbers:
“Sunday night’s premiere of Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace was watched by just 401,000 viewers — which is down 29% from the 2022 average for the 7 p.m. Eastern time hour, according to the latest television ratings from Nielsen Media Research.
Wallace’s show also drew just 44,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted demographic of viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, according to Nielsen. That’s 64% off of the average for that hour.”
Wallace’s Sunday evening show is an attempt to salvage something from the epic disaster that was CNN+, the streaming service venture that was shut down in April before it ever left the ground. Perhaps the only thing worse than thinking a major network lifer who has spent his entire five-decade career woodenly buttressing ruling establishment narratives would spark interest by showing more of his human side is believing people would pay a premium to see it.
The original plan for Wallace at CNN+ was painfully awkward from the beginning. Here’s a February press release by the venture touting his and other programming:
“Join CNN+ Anchor Chris Wallace, one of the most highly respected journalists of our time, in candid conversations with prominent individuals across the spectrum of news, sports, entertainment, art and culture. Wallace moves outside of politics to include his wide range of interests – from interviews to conversations, and from headlines to smart, sensible, in-depth discussions. He seeks light, not heat.”
The lineup of guests that Wallace was expected to draw light from had no relevance to the vast majority of Americans today. Aged actor Billy Crystal, PBS’s favorite documentarian Ken Burns and retired Disney executive Bob Iger were all given the intimate Wallace treatment. CNN+ was supposed to be “dynamic” and “new,” yet the subject material its new “star” was offering was straight out of 1986.
Chris Wallace Media Babies
It all smacks of a particular kind of disconnect that comes when alleged reporters firmly see themselves as what the public tunes in for rather than factual information about actual news. CNN+ also intended to feature a cringeworthy “Interview Club,” in which reporters and anchors indulged in “Ask Me Anything” preening to further boost their already over-inflated sense of self-importance.
If you can stomach it, watch this brief clip from an “Interview Club” segment in which a lifeless Wolf Blitzer limply sets up White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins to talk about… herself. It manages to be interminably tedious in just one minute and 17 seconds.
This is what CNN wanted to charge folks to watch.
It is the true legacy of Chris Wallace. A dull servant of a pre-packaged big-box media elite gazing at his navel and making himself the story.
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