Opinion: Chris Wallace’s stark admission about Tucker Carlson shames Fox News

Written by Greg Sargent and published in the Washington Post 3/28/22

When Chris Wallace resigned from Fox News last December, media observers correctly diagnosed the move’s real meaning: This stripped away one of the last fig leaves disguising Fox’s increasing role as a propaganda operation on Donald Trump’s behalf.

Now Wallace has shared new details about his reason for leaving Fox, and the revelations sharpen this point considerably. It turns out Wallace quit in part because of Fox host Tucker Carlson’s depiction of the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt as a “false flag” operation, creating a situation Wallace describes as “unsustainable.”

We should be clear on what this means. Wallace seems to have decided he could no longer credibly practice journalism on Fox in part because, increasingly, the only acceptable narrative at Fox about Trump’s effort to overturn U.S. democracy to remain in power illegitimately is one that falsifies it entirely.

Wallace’s new comments came in an interview with the New York Times. Wallace declared that he “no longer felt comfortable with the programming at Fox.” In that regard, the key revelation concerns Wallace’s conclusion about the meaning of Carlson’s dominance:

He confirmed reports that he was so alarmed by Mr. Carlson’s documentary “Patriot Purge” — which falsely suggested the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was a “false flag” operation intended to demonize conservatives — that he complained directly to Fox News management.

“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.”

That is a stark admission: Carlson’s wholesale rewriting of Jan. 6 is a key reason Wallace decided his continued presence at Fox was unsustainable. This seems to confirm the suspicion of some media critics — such as Eric Boehlert and Dan Froomkin — that Wallace had decided Fox was becoming fundamentally irredeemable as a news organization.

But the key to this, I submit, is not simply that Wallace grew alienated by the network’s Jan. 6 propaganda. It’s also that Wallace decided his own journalistic treatment of Jan. 6 could no longer credibly emanate from Fox’s platform.Default Mono Sans Mono Serif Sans Serif Comic Fancy Small CapsDefault X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large XX-LargeDefault Outline Dark Outline Light Outline Dark Bold Outline Light Bold Shadow Dark Shadow Light Shadow Dark Bold Shadow Light BoldDefault Black Silver Gray White Maroon Red Purple Fuchsia Green Lime Olive Yellow Navy Blue Teal Aqua OrangeDefault 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%Default Black Silver Gray White Maroon Red Purple Fuchsia Green Lime Olive Yellow Navy Blue Teal Aqua OrangeDefault 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%

Chris Wallace signs off ‘Fox News Sunday’ for a the last time

“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace made a final farewell at the end of the show on Dec. 12. Wallace is leaving the Fox News network “for a new adventure.” (Video: Fox News, Photo: Fox News)

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Indeed, to appreciate this moment, we should remember that some of Wallace’s highest-profile recent moments concerned his efforts to cross-examine Republican lawmakers about their role in covering up the insurrection attempt.

As you’ll recall, Wallace mercilessly grilled House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) about Jan. 6 last April, pressing McCarthy to detail the phone call in which McCarthy screamed at Trump to call off the rioters. When McCarthy responded by hemming and hawing that Trump did issue a video appeal, Wallace denounced that as “weak.”

In so doing, Wallace put his finger on the beating heart of the GOP coverup for Trump. He pressed the top House Republican on his whitewashing of extraordinarily corrupt malfeasance: Trump allowed the violence to unfold, potentially as a weapon to disrupt the conclusion of the election in Congress and the peaceful transfer of power, to disastrous and deadly effect.

Wallace also grilled another House GOP leader — Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana — over his support for that vile Texas lawsuit aiming to invalidate millions of votes against Trump. Banks defended this, absurdly claiming there are still “serious concerns” about the voting.

In short, Wallace has tried to hold Republicans accountable for feeding Trump’s lies about the election’s outcome, validation that likely helped inspire the Jan. 6 violence, and for helping cover up Trump’s seeming relishing of the violence as a potential tool to carry out his coup.

This is the sort of journalistic conduct that doesn’t have a future home at Fox, apparently: The Republican coverup for Trump must not be scrutinized. That’s what Wallace’s actions seem to suggest, even as Carlson’s propagandizing about Jan. 6 is seen as a smashing ratings success.

By the way, this isn’t confined to Wallace: As CNN media reporters Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy point out, other Fox sources have voiced similar dissatisfaction about Fox’s propagandizing for Trump, a dynamic that grew worse after Trump’s loss.

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Nicole Hemmer, the author of an excellent history of conservative media, notes the larger context: After Jan. 6, Fox appears to have felt serious pressure from more extreme right-wing news sources, such as Newsmax, which offered even more egregious whitewashing of the insurrection.

“Fox News has to compete with those other right-wing sources,” Hemmer told me. She added that when Fox got “too far out to the left, like when they acknowledged Joe Biden won the 2020 election, they found their audience was beginning to revolt.”

In the weeks after the 2020 election, Hemmer noted, right-wing protests that attacked the “liberal media” for its coverage of the election’s aftermath also attacked Fox. As Hemmer put it, a key driver of Fox’s support for Carlson’s Jan. 6 propaganda is the network’s need to “shore up and continue to do maintenance on its reputation with MAGA people.”

What that says about Fox as a journalistic organization is bad enough. What it says about Fox’s low opinion of its audience’s incapacity for exposure to the truth might be even worse.

Chris Wallace Quits Abruptly: Objects to Tucker’s Jan 6 Conspiracy Documentary

Two Fox executives and one anchor so disgusted by Fox’s democracy destruction project they have flown the coop

Written by B Kean and published in Medium.com

Photo by Suzi Kim on Unsplash

It was a departure long in the making but for Chris Wallace, it was the egregious lies of Tucker Carlson’s incendiary Jan 6th “documentary” that finally broke his back.

Today, at the end of his weekly show, “Fox News Sunday,” Wallace shocked his viewers and the media world by announcing that his last show with Fox has just been viewed.

After 18 years, Wallace tossed in the towel and to pretend it was just because he wanted to see what else is out there, like he hinted, is his asking us to close our eyes to the obvious: Fox News has gone so far off the rails that no one with the smallest shred of credibility can stay there.

Well Respected

Chris Wallace has long been the only journalist at Fox News who respected the roll journalism plays in keeping a democracy healthy. Fox long ago tossed out the duty of oversight the “Fourth Estate,” journalism, suggests.

Fox, as we all know, long ago identified a narrative that would ensure long term profit creation for the “friends and family” of Murdoch’s world. The narrative was a simple one: keep the nation always in a state of fear and panic and prevent any government action that could solve society’s problems. The more they festered, the more they earned.

Wallace never marched to the beat of that narrative and I long have wondered when he would be fired by Fox.

Whether or not he was eased out, or he ran out after some heated conservations over Carlson’s recent 3-part mockumentary, “Patriot Purge,” that truth will eventually find its way to a book by Wallace or someone close to him. We must wait.

There is a sadness, though, or maybe it could be called a feeling of regret that tugs at me. Wallace’s departure will change nothing at Fox, it will only empower the likes of Carlson. The Foxified herd of lost Americans will now look as Wallace as the enemy; someone, they surely will be told by Tucker, “Wallace chose a big fat contract” over the opportunity to “tell the truth at here at Fox.”

Chris Wallace was a regular, and welcome fixture in the homes of millions of Trumpists each Sunday. His voice, even though it might have been articulating a truth that was foreign to the Foxified, was at least in a way blessed by the demons of News Corp. If he’s on Fox and speaking such things, that means there must be some truth, some might have reasoned — not anymore though.

He’s gone and with him that voice of reason is silenced. Wallace was uniquely qualified to call out politicians for their bullshit in ways that other anchors, at both Fox and CNN, weren’t. Now, he joins something called CNN+, a streaming-service, and his voice, while still authoritative, now merely becomes another with which I will inevitably agree over at CNN.

Something inside of me was rooting for him to stay in the den of iniquities so that he could weekly wash away some of the grime of their deceit and vileness. But alas, a man with superman like powers for seeing the real truth in most questions of the day, he could no longer stomach being in the same place as the traitor and “word terrorist,” Tucker Carlson.

According to an expert on terrorism, Carlson’s right wing propaganda film, one that would make Leni Riefenstahl blush, could classically be labeled as a motivational film for American-made, right wing extremists. The mockumentary is giving the dangerously dumb their “Red Dawn” and the Kyle Rittenhouse’s of squirrel-hunting America are probably planning to get “wolverines” tattooed to their arms.

“It is political propaganda that is meant to rally a support base that has shown a willingness to mobilize on the basis of disinformation and lies,” said Michael Jensen, a senior researcher at the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. “That’s how we got Jan. 6 in the first place (Patriot Purge Falsehoods).”

Good Bye, Chris

Wallace could no longer be a part of this hate. He could no longer be a part of the most-watched cable news network which openly dismantles our democracy. Chris Wallace flew the coop and we will miss him.

Wallace is known for his tough, but fair, questioning of both Democratic and Republican politicians. His reputation for grilling members of both parties made him well-respected in journalistic circles, but often irked the Fox News audience which showed immense loyalty to former President Donald Trump. That was especially true when Wallace called out Trump directly, including when he said that the former president “engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on the free press in our history (Wallace Leaving Fox).”

With no one left to rebut the lies and conspiracy theories of Fox News, the dumb and gullible will only become more Foxified. With no one left to irk the listeners with the truth, the Fox narrative will race through the few independent brain cells left, fully soaking them in a brine of anti-democratic hate.

Chris Wallace, thank you for your service to truth — maybe you will reconsider?

Our Founding Fathers foresaw a Trump; but they never foresaw a Rupert Murdoch.