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Chris Wallace’s Exit Shows Fox News Is Done Holding Back

Veteran anchor Chris Wallace has jumped to CNN from Fox News — where he was increasingly out of place.

SO WHAT

Fox appears to be going full “MAGA.”

WHAT HAPPENED

Wallace, 74, delivered the surprising news that he was leaving at the end of “Fox News Sunday,” the talk show he hosted for 18 years.

“It is the last time, and I say this with real sadness, we will meet like this,” he said at the end of his regular broadcast. “I’m ready for a new adventure.”

  • Within two hours, CNN announced Wallace was joining its new streaming service as an anchor; CNN+ is expected to debut in early 2022.
  • “We are extremely proud of our journalism and the stellar team that Chris Wallace was a part of for 18 years,” Fox said Sunday. “The legacy of ‘Fox News Sunday’ will continue.”

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

Wallace reportedly turned down an extension of his Fox News contract, which was coming to an end this month, as he and the conservative network had grown apart since the start of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Fox News, after briefly losing viewers with its coverage of Trump’s 2020 loss, shifted its prime-time programming toward “MAGA”-friendly opinion and away from straight news — surging ahead of the competition in the ratings.

  • Several journalists left the network’s news side in recent years, starting with longtime anchor Shepherd Smith in 2018, who had feuded with star opinion host Tucker Carlson.
  • Fox fired veteran politics editor Chris Stirewalt in January after he helped project Trump’s loss in Arizona, infuriating allies and supporters of the former president.
  • In May, liberal pundit Juan Williams was removed from his spot on “The Five” talk show, and Democratic analyst Donna Brazile departed for ABC News.

Wallace, who saw himself as a “straight” newsman, often publicly disagreed with Fox News colleagues and viewers who were more sympathetic to Trump.

  • Internally, Wallace has repeatedly objected to the network’s strident opinion programming, per ABC  News, including Carlson’s recent documentary on the Jan. 6 attack.
  • Anchor Bret Baier also raised concerns about the special, which featured “false flag” claims, and Fox News contributors Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg quit over it last month.
  • Fox said it has not planned to renew Hayes’ and Goldberg’s contracts.

WHAT NOW?

No less than Fox, liberal cable news stations have embraced their partisan id in the Trump era, as with MSNBC’s elevation of anti-Trump commentators Joy Reid and Nicolle Wallace as anchors.

But CNN’s hire of Wallace was not its first gesture in the other direction.

  • John Malone, a major shareholder in Discovery Inc., which may soon control CNN, said last month he wanted CNN to “actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing.”
  • Malone also praised Baier for trying “to distinguish news from opinion.”

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