- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2003

Chris Wallace has got his backbone set and his appetite ready for the Fox News Channel.

The former ABC News veteran debuts as anchor for “Fox News Sunday” this weekend, replacing stalwart Tony Snow, who remains as a contributor to the channel but will move to Fox News Radio early next year.

“ABC was great. But there is an energy, an excitement at Fox News. The greatest days are ahead for Fox, and that’s very attractive to me,” Mr. Wallace said yesterday.

Press reports have fished for significance behind Mr. Snow’s decision to leave high-profile television for talk radio.

Newsday, for example, noted yesterday that Fox “tilts to the right. The chief reason for that is the departing host, Tony Snow, a former conservative columnist. … His bosses have long been ambivalent about him in his TV role because his image tended to undercut their insistence that Fox News Channel is ‘fair and balanced.’”

But Mr. Wallace only wants to get down to business without the baggage.

“When Fox says it’s fair and balanced, the critics say that it’s just putting the best face on bias,” he said. “I couldn’t disagree more.

“We look at assumptions not examined in the mainstream media. Figuratively speaking, we’re going to put the ball right at the 50-yard line, then prove our point and make our case,” Mr. Wallace said.

Mr. Wallace’s first guest on Sunday is Democratic presidential aspirant Howard Dean. The one-hour show will be broadcast on both the Fox News Channel and Fox broadcast network.

“He’s the newsman’s newsman; he’s got a clean slate,” said one observer who also works in cable news. “He’s never worked for the White House or a politician. He relies on his news sense, not his political cronies. He’s raising the bar on the Sunday morning genre.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Wallace, 56, has been there and done that.

He began as a network anchorman, correspondent and news show host in 1975 — spending 14 years at NBC followed by another 14 years at ABC. He is also the son of “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace.

The siren call of Sunday morning has proved irresistible.

“It’s like a public trust. Sunday is a refuge from all the stories about Michael Jackson or Scott Peterson. It’s one of the few spots left where there are no apologies needed if you’re a political junkie, or if you care about foreign policy,” Mr. Wallace said.

He dismisses any threats from CNN or MSNBC.

“Competition? What competition?” Mr. Wallace asked.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.

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