Fox News’s Jay Wallace: ‘As Much As People Want to Try to Pit News Versus Opinion, This Place Was Built on Doing Both’

By A.J. Katz 

The Hollywood Reporter chatted with Fox News’s president of news Jay Wallace for a story published yesterday. A major part of the discussion was what seems to be a growing divide between the news and opinion sides of the network.

Hosts of the opinion programs, including Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Fox & Friends , and of course Sean Hannity, have far more access to and are far more sympathetic towards the president than the network’s news journalists, including Shep Smith, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, Neil Cavuto, and more recently, Shannon Bream at 11 p.m.

What does Wallace think about what seems like a growing divide between news and opinion?

 Look, I think people want to say that there is, and sure — the thing about these shows and these individuals that you just cited, they’re all super smart people. And they’re very passionate about what they do. For me, and I speak with Chris, I speak with all of them, and Bret and Neil, and I get Neil’s reason for not wanting to go after an interview, and I understand why Chris wants to, and why Bret would want to. And one thing we always try to remind people, and the good thing about this place, as much as people want to try to pit news versus opinion, this place was built on doing both. The marketplace lacked that, so people have grown up with a respect for each side.

An interesting question posted to Wallace whether the opinion hosts who seem to have a far easier time getting the president to sit down with them ever lobby for their colleagues on the new side…”Can they make the ask?”

 No. The issue here — these shows, and when you’re dealing with very strong talent like these guys, it is sort of a free market. And, if Laura, as someone who has been a strong opinion person and has been connected to candidates, or she has her connections. If she’s able to get a Trump interview, that’s her show, and that’s up to her. Look, I can see the White House is doing what they think their best place is. Good for them. But, on the other hand, Bret and Chris will continue to fight to get their interviews. But, there really is no…these shows really, they run in an individual way in many ways, as do the talent. So, we don’t sit there and try to influence one and say, “Hey, if you’re getting that there, in opinion, can you help us with something?’ It’s really up to the show. News does its side, and opinion does its side. Would we like to get one? Sure. But, again, I’m not going to have opinion change anything that they’re doing, and if that’s where the administration’s going, that’s their prerogative.