The Biz: Chris Wallace Celebrates 10 Years on Fox News Sunday
Chris Wallace | Photo Credits: Fox News Channel
Time flies when you're making politicians squirm with tough questions. This Sunday, Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace celebrates 10 years in the anchor chair on the Washington roundtable show Fox News Sunday (check local listings). Wallace is the only news anchor to helm Sunday shows on two different networks — he was moderator of NBC's Meet the Press in the late 1980s. He recently took some time to reflect on his run and his days as a gofer for Walter Cronkite.
TV Guide Magazine: You were really the big first name to come to Fox News from one of the traditional big 3 networks. How do you think the channel has changed since you first arrived?
Chris Wallace: Not a lot. I think that it's an interesting place to work because you have this kind of firewall, and it really is, between the news side and the opinion side. And I can tell you, 10 years later, [Fox News chairman] Roger Ailes has made good on his promise. He asked only one thing of me. He said, 'I want you to treat everybody the same. I don't want you to push an agenda, I don't want you to pull your punches, I want you to be as tough on all sides.' I have never, in 10 years, gotten a note from him or a direction from him about a guest to have or about a question to ask. I think he feels that I've lived up to my charter, which is, as they used to say about Vince Lombardi, 'He doesn't discriminate, he treats them all like dogs.'
TV Guide Magazine: You have probably taken the most hits from both political sides because you've operated that way. You have that passionate conservative audience that looks to Fox to hear their side articulated and you will sometimes speak the truth to that. There's some heat that comes with it, isn't there?
Wallace: Well, sure. But I must say, most of the audience feels that if you're even-handed and as long as you're treating both sides the same. And I think they feel that in a lot of places, that isn't what happens, that Democrats get a free pass. Their feeling is, as long as you treat both sides the same, they're okay with that. And I think that's what we do. I could point to a bunch of interviews in recent months and over the last 10 years where I think we've been tough on Democrats and we've been just as tough as Republicans.
TV Guide Magazine: Fox News has been a dominant number one in cable news for a long time now. How does it get away with calling other networks the mainstream media? Isn't Fox kind of part of the mainstream now?
Wallace: Well, in terms of viewership, absolutely. In terms of outlook, not so much. I could point to a lot of cases where I think Fox is out there alone in presenting both sides of the story, and I think sometimes that there is only one side of the story being presented in the mainstream media.
TV Guide Magazine: Most recent example?
Wallace: I think that Fox was much earlier to the game in raising questions about Obamacare. And a lot of the things that you're seeing now — about if you like your insurance policy, you can keep your policy — there were a lot of questions about that on Fox long before you heard it in the mainstream media. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor — it turns out that's not true in a lot of cases. I think you heard that on Fox before a lot of other places.