On TV, Fox News host Chris Wallace plays the fact-driven, unbiased journalist — a character that seems to have faded from a world of dishonest media. But underneath the circumspect persona, Wallace is every bit a liberal partisan as the rest of the press.
At a recent event honoring journalists, Wallace accused Trump of engaging in a “sustained assault” on press freedom unlike anything in the history of the American presidency.
“He has done everything he can to undercut the media to try to delegitimize [us],” Wallace said, according to Breitbart. “I think his purpose is clear: to raise doubts, when we report critically about him and his administration, that we can be trusted.”
What’s really going on?
Before rebuking Trump, Wallace scolded journalists who let their “animus” towards the president leak into their reporting. The journalist criticized the fast-and-loose use of terms like “bombshell” in today’s media and CNN’s blackout of the IG report, which vindicated president Trump’s claims about FBI spying.
Despite this scathing assessment of the media, Wallace told an audience at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. that journalists are “paid to tell the truth” and blamed Trump for rising distrust towards journalists. The Fox journalist took issue with Trump calling the media “the enemy of the people” and claimed that Trump’s attacks “have done some damage,” pointing to a Freedom Forum Institute poll which found that 77% of Americans think that “Fake News” is a serious threat to democracy.
“I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Wallace said.
“We get paid to tell the truth. How many people can say that?” Wallace added, according to Adweek’s TVNewser. “To cut through all the spin, all the distractions, and to tell the American people what is really going on.”
Certainly, the media shouldn’t be attacked for reporting unsavory news about the president — but there’s a difference between criticism and untrue propaganda. As those in the media seem to see it, it’s a problem when Trump attacks them for false reporting, but not when the media lies to the American people — as they have done repeatedly since Trump rose to the office.
Who’s to blame?
Wallace blames Trump for rising distrust in the media, but a lack of self-awareness and accountability may explain the trend. As Wallace pointed out, many in the media responded with silence — or else vindication, to avoid having to own up to false reporting on the Trump–Russia probe — when it was revealed this week that the FBI withheld exculpatory information to spy on Carter Page, a Trump campaign member who the media had framed as a Russian asset throughout the Russia hoax.
Wallace has said that the Justice Department’s inspector general uncovered “shocking” misdeeds, according to Fox News. But his concerns over the IG report make for a rare concession from the Fox anchor, who more often echoes mainstream liberal talking points than he does criticize them.
For his part, President Trump has criticized Wallace for his impeachment coverage, calling the journalist “nasty” and “obnoxious” and a disappointment to his famous journalist father, Mike Wallace, according to MSN. The Fox host himself acknowledged Trump’s comment at the event, quipping: “One of my sons said, ‘Nasty? No. Obnoxious? Well.'”
Wallace ended with a message of encouragement to fellow journalists surviving the Trump era: Trump will eventually be gone, and those in the media can go back to saying what they want without pushback.
“The bottom line is we have seen presidents come and go,” Wallace said. “We will endure. So will freedom of the press.”