The late, great mystery writer P.D. James said she knew early on that she had a great interest in crime and mystery. As a very young girl, when she first heard the story of Humpty Dumpty and his great fall, she couldn’t help but speculate. Did he fall or was he pushed? The same question could be asked about Chris Wallace, who announced this Sunday at the conclusion of Fox News Sunday, over which he has boringly presided for the past 18 years, that he’s leaving the show and Fox News. He’s apparently headed to another cable news network, one with many fewer viewers, but an ideology closer to Wallace’s own.
There was probably no real reason for Phyllis Dorothy to suspect that Humpty Dumpty was done in. But it’s no secret that many Fox News viewers have found Wallace’s pompous style, his stentorian tone and self-important presentation, to be off-putting to the max. I only watch from time to time because some of the panel members are worth listening to, and I’ve always been pleased when there was a guest host.
So did he jump or was he pushed? Or did he just leave because he was frustrated with Fox’s insistence on giving Republicans and conservatives a fair shake. Either way, the suits at Fox News executive suites, and likely a majority of Fox News viewers, have reason to be pleased that Wallace will no longer be clogging up Sunday mornings. When we heard the news my wife and I, over a late, Sunday morning breakfast, let up a great cheer. Hallelujah and jubilee!
Fox News Media crooned the usual soothing boiler plate on Wallace’s departure:
We are extremely proud of our journalism and the stellar team that Chris Wallace was a part of for 18 years. The legacy of Fox News Sunday will continue with our star journalists, many of whom will rotate in the position until a permanent host is named.
This tells us nothing, though it should be noticed how thin this statement is on the contributions of Wallace himself.
“I want to try something else. To go beyond politics to all the things I’m interested in,” Wallace intoned in his usual (sarcasm alert) humble way as an explanation for his sudden departure. “I’m ready for a new adventure. And I hope you’ll check it out.” He gave no clues to what “it” might be. Though National Review is reporting that Wallace’s destination is CNN, where Wallace will be free to indulge his inner leftist.
NR reports, “CNN Communications published a statement announcing Wallace transition, adding that the ‘new show will feature interviews with newsmakers across politics, business, sports, and culture.’” In other words, the same thing Wallace was doing at Fox, though now at a news network whose world view and prejudices are closer to his own.
“I am thrilled to join CNN+. After decades in broadcast and cable news, I am excited explore the world of streaming. I look forward to the new freedom and flexibility streaming affords in interviewing major figures across the new landscape — and finding new ways to tell stories,” said Wallace. “As I embark on this adventure, I am honored and delighted to join Jeff Zucker and his great team. I can’t wait to get started.”
This, in the business department cliché, is a win-win situation. Fox viewers will be shed of a journalist they have long detested, and Wallace will be more at home at the left-leaning CNN. He will also, thanks to CNN’s minuscule viewership, soon be enjoying the obscurity he so rich deserves. So did he jump or was he pushed? Very possibly a bit of both.
Wallace’s high-sounding but vague excuse he aired this morning for jumping the Fox ship is the civilian equivalent of politicians who say they will not run for re-election in order to “spend more time with my family.” They say this when it becomes clear they will lose the next election. Of course alert observers can’t help but notice that these guys rarely spend more time with their families, most members of which are just as pleased not to have these guys under foot. Most become lobbyists or stay in Washington in some form of political work rather than returning to East Overshoe, where their welcome has worn thin, explaining why they knew they would lose the next election.
In his departure homily Sunday morning Wallace took time to bang on about all the important guests he’s had on his show, including presidents, and how he has “held them to account” with his acute questioning. Aside from likely having to treat an injured arm from patting himself on the back — Wallace clearly studied humility on a Geraldo Rivera scholarship — his notion that he’s ever held anyone to account is pure heifer dust. His questions have been entirely predictable and easy for his guests to maneuver around. Any half-way adept guest blows right through them. His questions have rarely shown any imagination and have almost always been framed by the current conventional wisdom, as seen by the Washington swamp. I’ve sometimes thought that if his New York Times and Washington Post were not delivered to his home Sunday morning he would have no idea what to ask on his show. And if CNN suits believe Wallace’s arrival will help improve their dismal viewership numbers, my guess is they’re headed for a big disappointment.
Right now we can just be happy with the good news that this overrated and ever-annoying newsman, annoying on both style and substance, has left the news network that most closely approaches a fair and balanced view of our world. Fox has unloaded a liability. No regular host or hostess has been named to take over Fox News Sunday. But the further good news is that Fox has a fine lineup of competent potential successors to pick from. This lineup includes but is not limited to: John Roberts, Bret Baier, Martha McCallum, Bill Hemmer, and Shannon Bream. An embarrassment of talent riches. Anyone of whom on this lineup card would improve Sunday mornings for Fox News regulars.
Stay tuned. And did I mention? Hallelujah and Jubilee!
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