There was a time not so long ago when loyal viewers of Fox News would gnash their teeth as Shep Smith – a sort of white Joy Reid, but with less testosterone – bleated his way through the afternoon news programming with as many nasty digs at former President Donald Trump, or Republicans in general, as he could cram in. Shep is gone now, but Chris Wallace was still at Fox, until Sunday, when Christmas came early for conservatives.
Wallace, who hosted Fox News Sunday for 18 years, said goodbye to his audience on December 12. Before he had even put his stapler, his little cactus, and his well-thumbed copy of Journalism for Dummies into a cardboard box and set off for the door, CNN announced the Fox veteran would be joining its CNN+ streaming service. An appropriate move, most of Fox’s conservative viewers would no doubt say – after they said a few other things about Wallace that cannot be printed here. Over the past five years, it had become increasingly clear that Wallace was a little out of place.
Though Fox News has been home to far more Democrats than those who hate the network would ever know or admit, Wallace no longer seemed to fit. From 2016 on, he found it increasingly difficult to conceal his already thinly veiled disdain for former President Donald Trump and anyone who worked in his White House or his administration.
Over the same period of time, conservatives found it increasingly difficult not to put a dozen rounds through their TV screens every time Wallace made an appearance. And it really wasn’t so much his obvious political bias against the views most prevalent among the Fox audience as his unbearable narcissism. Liberty Nation’s Leesa K. Donner once described him as “Mini-Mike, the insecure shell of his father.” Donner was making a reference to Myron “Mike” Wallace, Chris’ dad; an actual newsman whose long, distinguished, and occasionally controversial career included being one of the driving forces of the iconic CBS show 60 Minutes.
That narcissism seeped through – and sometimes gushed through – in almost every interview Wallace the younger conducted. Oftentimes it would appear he was interrupting his guest with a challenge or a question just to hear his own voice, or remind his audience that, well, they were watching Chris Wallace. During said interruptions, and they were many, one could imagine Wallace listening to himself in his head – and he was hearing, “Chris Wallace! Chris Wallace! Chrissssssss Wallacccccccccce!”
Donner may have seen this change a-comin’ back in October of 2020 when, in an article about this “anchorman-turned-Democratic operative,” she wrote:
“[Wallace] is either blue through and through or auditioning for a nice juicy paycheck from NBC News. There Wallace can experience the comfortable environs of a leftist echo chamber where he might fit in perfectly. Fox viewers can only hope he jumps ship and does not talk to Megyn Kelly to see how the move to NBC worked out for her.”
The question is, did Wallace jump or was he pushed? Did this legend in his own lunchtime really walk away from a nearly two-decade-spanning flagship weekend news program for which he was likely paid somewhere in the region of a gazillion dollars to a weekday internet show for CNN, for which his compensation will probably be $25 an hour, a free Subway sandwich, and a Starbucks gift card? Who does that?
And here’s another thing to think about: CNN just booted Fredo Cuomo out the door. Now, on a 1-10 scale of journalistic prestige and influence, Fredo was about a 5 – to be fair – while Wallace was a 10. Did CNN give Wallace Cuomo’s spot? No, it shoved him over to its streaming service. Wallace won’t have an executive producer – and certainly not a bigtime sexual predator executive producer (alleged), like CNN hosts usually get. Gosh, no. Wallace’s new show will be produced by some 30-year-old, 280-pound, Cheeto-covered dude named Kevin who works out of his mom’s basement but who’s a genius at streaming video, when he’s not playing Final Fantasy 110, or whatever the latest version of that game is.
Way to go, Mr. Wallace. Perhaps you should have retired. After all, if you have at least a couple of grandkids you would have commanded a larger audience than you’ll ever gain at CNN+.
~ Read more from Graham J. Noble.