Chris Wallace speaks at Kennedy Political Union event
Wallace and McBride discuss the election, President Trump and journalism
Chris Wallace, host of “FOX News Sunday,” spoke to American University students at an event hosted by the Kennedy Political Union on Feb. 20. The veteran journalist spoke about the election, President Trump and the importance of journalism.
Anita McBride, former chief of staff to Laura Bush and executive-in-residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at the School of Public Affairs, moderated the event, which took place in the Abramson Family Founders Room in the School of International Service.
Wallace, who has worked at Fox News since 2003, comes from a background of different networks including NBC and ABC. He said he has covered almost every major news event and election cycle since 1975, including moderating the final presidential debate in 2016.
Wallace said covering this election cycle has been different from 2016, specifically because the Democratic National Committee barred Fox News from hosting debates because of the network’s perceived conservative bias. He said the move was “idiotic.”
“Anyone that has watched the interviews that I’ve done, I don’t think anyone can say I go soft on Trump,” Wallace said in an interview with The Eagle about his own reporting.
Recently, Wallace has been subject to attacks on Twitter from President Trump because of his tendency to fact-check Trump officials that appear on his show. Trump singled out Wallace, saying he should be on “Fake News CNN or MSDNC.”
Wallace warned that while Trump has “to an unprecedented degree” gone after the media, journalists should not become advocates. He said journalists need to be even-handed even if they personally don’t agree with the president.
“You become an advocate for or against someone and it hurts your credibility,” Wallace said.
A student asked Wallace if news networks – like Fox – should make a distinction between commentators or advocates and news anchors. Wallace said that while there is no question that Fox’s opinion side is pro-Trump, he doesn’t know how much more of a clearer distinction they could make.
“I think that Fox has always had a firewall between opinions and news,” Wallace said, adding that commentators are not allowed to anchor election nights, unlike on MSNBC.
Wallace said he is proud of his network’s coverage and gave a piece of advice to students covering this election cycle. He said to be cheeky and to pester people, even if it seems like it is too much, and to read news that doesn’t “foster your views.”
McBride also asked Wallace about this current election cycle – one that he is following closely. He said Senator Bernie Sanders is the definite frontrunner in his eyes, despite the fact that running on a “socialist” platform was unimaginable years ago.
“If he [Sanders] were to win – and I don’t rule that out – it would take the Democratic party in a dramatic new direction,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he thinks the next four years will be very different no matter who wins. He said it will not be until 2024 that Americans will see the real difference in the Republican party.
“The party’s been completely taken over by Trump and Trumpism,” Wallace said, noting that he does not rule out Trump’s children running for office one day.
Despite the hostile political climate that Wallace reports in, he said it will come to an end one day.
“We’ll get through and get past it and life will move on,” Wallace said.