Chris Wallace On 5 Years At FNC and Why “The Traditional Meet the Press Audience Will Shop Around”

By Alissa Krinsky 

Alissa Krinsky
TVNewser Contributor

This Sunday, Chris Wallace celebrates five years with Fox News Channel.

The Fox News Sunday host talks with TVNewser about being “fair and balanced,” his future with the network, whether he’ll get an Obama interview anytime soon, and what he calls the “real post-Russert era.” He also gives an update on his father, 90 year-old Mike Wallace.


TVNewser: Some critics continue to charge that FNC is not “fair and balanced.” So, five years after joining the network, what is your feeling on this issue — what do you say to those critics?

Wallace: I’ll talk about myself. Back in March, I was appearing on Fox and Friends, and I called out the anchors there for what I said was two hours of [President-elect Barack] Obama-bashing, and said that I thought they were misrepresenting what Senator Obama had said about his grandmother as being a “typical white woman.”

I’m the same person who, this week, called out Ron Howard for, I thought, unfairly saying that Bush is the “new Nixon.”

I can’t imagine anything that’s more “fair and balanced.”

TVNewser: The President-elect is making the TV rounds these days. Will he appear on Fox News Sunday any time soon?

Wallace: I have, as you will not be surprised to hear, been in contact with the transition team, and they give me every reason to believe that we’ll get an interview with Mr. Obama shortly before or shortly after the inauguration.

TVNewser: Has the Sunday morning news scene changed or “shaken out” since the death of Tim Russert?

Wallace: I don’t think it’s changed a lot, because Tom Brokaw is as much of an icon as Tim Russert was. He’s been as much of a ratings draw and he perhaps has been an even more effective booker. I think that people like Caroline Kennedy, he was able to get on though his contacts in New York.

I think the real post-Russert era begins next week when Brokaw steps down, and, it appears, David Gregory takes over. And I think that’s the point at which the Sunday morning news audience will begin to survey the landscape.

TVNewser: As a former Meet the Press moderator (1987-88), what are your thoughts on Gregory possibly being named host of the program?

Wallace: I like David, I think he’s a very effective broadcaster. I think he’ll do well. But — and I think he’d be the first to admit it — he’s not Tom Brokaw and he’s not Tim Russert.

And I think that some of the traditional Meet the Press audience will shop around.

TVNewser: Now that the election is over, some people say that watching the Sunday morning news shows is not as interesting as it was during the run-up to November 4. What are your thoughts on that?

Wallace: Oh I think, if anything, it’s an even more interesting time, because you have this remarkable figure, Barack Obama…

And I think that, for the first time, perhaps, since Ronald Reagan in 1980, there is somebody who is really gonna change the way Washington does business. And I think the Sunday talk shows are a perfect venue to find out what he intends to do, how he hopes to shake things up, whether it works, or fails miserably.

TVNewser: How’s your dad doing? Does he plan to return to television?

Wallace: He’s doing okay. He’s had some health issues. I wouldn’t look for him to be on the air anytime soon, but I wouldn’t count him out.

And the longer he stays on the air, the longer I hope to get to work for Roger Ailes!

TVNewser: For how long would you like to stay at FNC — what are your future plans?

Wallace: When I was first hired by Roger Ailes five years ago, I said, look, given my father’s work experience I can only give you thirty years.

I’m five years down, and I have twenty-five more to go.