Former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace says he jumped ship last year to CNN because his position with the right-tilting network had become “unsustainable.”
Mr. Wallace told The New York Times in an interview published Sunday that he “no longer felt comfortable with the programming at Fox,” citing commentary by Fox personalities on the 2020 presidential election and Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“I’m fine with opinion: conservative opinion, liberal opinion,” Mr. Wallace said. “But when people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable.”
He added that “I spent a lot of 2021 looking to see if there was a different place for me to do my job.”
The interview was timed to the Tuesday launch of Mr. Wallace’s daily interview show on CNN+, the Fox competitor’s new streaming service, called “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?”
Mr. Wallace, 74, said that he complained to Fox News management about “Patriot Purge,” the Fox Nation documentary hosted by commentator Tucker Carlson that aired claims that the Jan. 6 riot may have been a “false flag” operation aimed at scapegoating conservatives.
“Before, I found it was an environment in which I could do my job and feel good about my involvement at Fox,” Mr. Wallace said of his time at the network. “And since November of 2020, that just became unsustainable, increasingly unsustainable as time went on.”
Mr. Wallace announced in December he would leave Fox News after 18 years with the network.
He was best known as the host of “Fox News Sunday,” which has been helmed since his departure by a rotation of anchors, including “Special Report” host Bret Baier and “The Story” host Martha MacCallum.
While “Fox News Sunday” has long trailed the ABC, CBS and NBC Sunday talk shows in the ratings, the key 25-54 demographic audience has picked up since Mr. Wallace’s departure.
“According to Nielsen Media Research, the Jan. 23 episode of the show hosted by ‘Fox News at Night’ anchor Shannon Bream saw a rating increase of 27 percent in the 25-54 demo and a 21 percent rise in total viewers over Wallace’s last show on Dec. 12, 2021,” said Townhall.com in a Jan. 28 report.
A month before announcing his departure, Mr. Wallace praised Fox News in an interview with the Financial Times.
“Fox News has employed me for 18 years,” Mr. Wallace said in the Nov. 12 article. “They’ve never interfered with a question, with a guest I’ve brought on or a question I’ve asked. They have changed my life. They’ve changed my career. So to paraphrase William Casey, why on earth would I share any concerns I have about Fox News with the readers of the Financial Times?”