In one of his biggest and most surprising hires, Roger Ailes announced Monday that Chris Wallace will join Fox News as Sunday morning host on the broadcast side and regular commentator on the cable news side.
Wallace — son of broadcasting news legend Mike Wallace — turned in his notice late last week at ABC News in Washington D.C., where he was a senior correspondent on newsmag “Primetime Live” and frequent substitute host on “Nightline.” He had been with ABC News since 1989.
Wallace’s decision to join Ailes’ shop defied conventional wisdom, which has it that only conservative commentators and correspondents are drawn to the news operation. Wallace’s relatively high-profile network news career hasn’t been distinguished by any particular political bent.
Once assuming his new duties, Wallace will replace Tony Snow as host of the hourlong “Fox News Sunday,” which is produced by Fox News and airs on the Fox Broadcasting Network. Wallace also will have anchoring duties on Fox News Channel and play a prominent role in the cable news net’s 2004 presidential election coverage.
“Chris Wallace is a journalist of great experience and integrity who brings unique reporting and anchoring skills from in and outside Washington that will add great value to Fox News,” Ailes said.
Wallace told Daily Variety that the Fox News Channel is where the action is and is the one place in TV news where the audience is growing.
Fox News does “some of the most aggressive reporting out there,” Wallace told Daily Variety.
Fox is serious
“As far as any bias, I’d have to say that if you watch the Fox News Channel across the day, from morning to night, its reporting is serious, it’s aggressive, it’s thorough and it’s even-handed,” Wallace said.
During the Iraqi war this spring, Wallace said time and time again Fox News Channel reports were cited as stories to pursue on ABC News’ internal news wire.
Wallace said ABC News countered the Fox News offer by suggesting that he move from “Primetime” to the news division and become chief diplomatic correspondent at the State Dept.
“Chris is talented, and whoever gets him is lucky,” ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said.
Competition is fierce among the Sunday morning news roundups on the broadcast nets, giving added significance to the decision to put Wallace in the anchor seat at “Fox News Sunday.” Show ranks fourth.
Prior to his long stint at ABC News, Wallace worked for NBC News, where he was chief White House correspondent from 1982-89. He also anchored NBC News’ “Meet the Press” from 1987-88 and the Sunday edition of “Nightly News” 1982-84 and 1986-87.