Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
In mid-July, President Trump sat for a lengthy interview with Chris Wallace for a “Fox News Sunday” episode, during which the veteran journalist engaged in a brutal back-and-forth with the leader of the free world that Wallace had rarely displayed with Democratic guests.
It infuriated long-time fans of the network and, of course, supporters of the president.
But in reality, the network was already beginning to lose its luster among conservatives increasingly thirsty for a big-barreled network that reliably pushes back against the phalanx of left-wing outlets including all major broadcast networks, CNN, and MSNBC that are an echo chamber for the Democratic left.
Fox News was also beginning to lose the president.
“…I don’t want to Win for myself, I only want to Win for the people. The New @FoxNews is letting millions of GREAT people down! We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!” Trump tweeted in August 2019.
But the president had singled out Wallace long before he agreed to the hour-long interview.
“Just watched Mike Wallace wannabe, Chris Wallace, on @FoxNews. I am now convinced that he is even worse than Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Meet the Press(please!), or the people over at Deface the Nation. What the hell is happening to @FoxNews. It’s a whole new ballgame over there!” Trump tweeted in April, in reference to Chris Wallace’s late legendary newsman father, one of the original correspondents for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
The turnaround, frankly, is stunning.
During then-GOP nominee Trump’s 2016 campaign, Fox News was the one outlet he could count on to carry his rallies in their entirety.
The wall-to-wall coverage endeared the president to the network, and he rewarded it mightily after his election by reserving the bulk of his earliest interviews to Fox News hosts and correspondents.
Between his January 20, 2017 inauguration through March 18, five of seven interviews he gave were to Fox News. It was often said that Trump frequently watched the network.
Since then, the network’s prime-time stars like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, have often secured interviews with the president, and continue to do so to this day.
But along the line — and increasingly this year — the network’s straight news anchors appear to have begun to take a different, harder approach with the president, a phenomenon he began to notice and point out last fall.
Especially, in the eyes of the president and his legions of supporters, Wallace.
Chris Wallace is a joke.
— Catturd ™ (@catturd2) April 12, 2020
In the minds of many, over the past several months Wallace appears to have begun taking a harder line with members of the Trump administration and Republicans in general.
— He has suggested that Trump lend more support for the Black Lives Matter movement, saying the president risks being “left behind.”
“You’ve got this major cultural shift,” Wallace told fellow anchor Bill Hemmer in June, as BLM-led protests were turning violent amid rioting and looting in many of the country’s biggest cities.
“We don’t know how long it will last, but when you see the NFL, Roger Goodell, flipping on kneeling during the national anthem, more remarkably when you see NASCAR with its roots in the South banning the confederate flag, they think that there’s a real cultural shift going on,” he said.
“What Kim Strassel was saying — and I agree with her— is that the president doesn’t seem to be reacting to that cultural shift and runs the risk of being left behind and that would be a bad place to be when you’re running for reelection,” he added, in reference to a column by Strassel.
— Wallace seems to reserve most of his so-called “gotcha” questions for Trump officials and Trump-aligned guests.
He pushed Trump senior campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp on the diminished crowd size during his Tulsa rally, as if it really mattered.
He tried to entrap Education Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding health concerns over sending kids back to school for in-person classes, even as she was citing scientific evidence that keeping children out of school was mentally and physically harmful.
“…[W]e’ve found the cost of getting back to regular life. In a lot of states, particularly in the south and the southwest, we reopened bars, we reopened restaurants, we reopened gyms, and we’ve seen a spike in cases that is almost double what he had in the height in the spring. So it’s not like reopening is an answer. In many cases, it creates new problems,” he said.
— In an interview with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in July, he attempted to lay blame on the Trump administration and Republicans for the lack of an additional coronavirus stimulus package — though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was making what the administration saw as unreasonable demands.
“House Democrats passed their relief bill back in May, fully two months ago, but here we are the last week in July and the White House and Senate Republicans still can’t agree on just a GOP package,” he said.
— In August, he remarkably claimed that Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, was not far-left.
“She is not far to the left, despite what Republicans are going to try to say,” he told network host Sandra Smith.
— Most recently, Wallace seemed to adhere to pre-determined narratives regarding political polls, mail-in balloting, and revelations made by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in a just-released book.
To be sure, Wallace has also needled Pelosi in recent interviews and has been tough on the Biden camp for not making the candidate more accessible to interviews.
But overall, to the president especially, Wallace appears to have lost his ability to refrain from editorializing, basing many of interviews with administration officials not on eliciting relevant information but rather to mire them in minutia while belaboring irrelevant points.
By comparison, Fox News senior political correspondent Brit Hume has emerged as someone who, without being entirely deferential to the president, at least appears to many as a far more objective anchor and less prone to developing ‘narratives’ instead of questions aimed at Trump administration officials and the president himself.
Filling in for Wallace on Sunday, for example, Hume deftly maneuvered liberal Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe into revealing his true views on the Constitution he has taught to students by asking him to respond to Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
After allowing Tribe to explain why he opposed it, Hume asked a point-blank question about the constitutionality of the nomination and managed to elicit a stunning response from Tribe by staying on target.
“Speaking of the Constitution, sir, do you find any support for your argument in the Constitution itself?” Hume asked.
“I’m not suggesting it’s unconstitutional to go ahead [with Barrett’s confirmation hearings]. It’s perfectly constitutional. But a lot of things that are constitutional are stupid,” Tribe responded.
Hume also hasn’t spared Democrats and leftists who get the kid gloves treatment from the vast majority of other news organizations:
— He characterized Biden’s nomination acceptance speech as containing “the same black grievance politics we’ve been hearing for decades now.”
“It was absolutely boilerplate dressed up in some well-done rhetoric. But that’s really what it was,” he added.
— Hume played it straight when Tucker Carlson asked him about the effects of shutting down much of the country to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The models that were the basis for these drastic restrictions that we have placed on ourselves as a country to combat the coronavirus [were flawed],” Hume said. “We may or may not have flattened the curve, but we’ve certainly flattened the economy. At least 10 million people are out of work based on the unemployment claims. And millions more either are or will be soon.”
— He characterized as “absurd” CNN host Don Lemon’s claim that Trump’s coronavirus briefings were his “new rallies.”
“I think the comparison being made here is absurd,” Hume told Fox News host Martha MacCallum, noting further that Lemon’s comment “seems to be on its face preposterous.”
— The senior political correspondent also said what almost no one else in his industry has been willing to admit: That Biden, while a “genuinely nice guy,” is nevertheless, “like many people his age…losing his memory, and is getting senile.”
It’s refreshing to see a newsman with Hume’s experience not succumb to the biases of his industry and politics in general that he’s lost the ability to be an honest broker of what is happening around him (and us).
Increasingly, it is becoming more difficult to say the same about Wallace.
So, here’s an informal petition imploring Fox News to salvage Fox News Sunday; swap Chris Wallace for Brit Hume permanently and watch the ratings soar!
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