Chris Wallace suggested on Sunday that President Donald Trump may not fully grasp the purpose of journalism in America.
During a wide-ranging discussion with Trump adviser Pam Bondi, the Fox anchor responded to the president’s criticism of the network’s decision to interview James Comey and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Wallace’s comments came after he criticized Trump last week for launching a “sustained assault” on the free press.
“My question, Pam, is does the president understand that it’s the duty of a free and fair press to cover both sides of the story?” Wallace asked, according to Breitbart.
Wallace: Does Trump understand?
Trump has long targeted Wallace and other skeptics at Fox News for — in his view — trumpeting leftist talking points that echo those of the mainstream media, particularly as Democrats blocked Fox from hosting their primary debates.
The president lumped Fox together with “Commiecast MSNBC” and “Fake News CNN” in a tweet Saturday that savaged the network over its decision to interview Schiff and Comey:
Both Commiecast MSNBC & Fake News CNN are watching their Ratings TANK. Fredo on CNN is dying. Don’t know why @FoxNews wants to be more like them? They’ll all die together as other outlets take their place. Only pro Trump Fox shows do well. Rest are nothing. How’s Shep doing?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2019
Comey was recently excoriated by the Justice Department’s inspector general (IG) for abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, which found that the agency withheld exculpatory information in order to spy on Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide. The IG report also proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Schiff lied when he called the Christopher Steele dossier a marginal part of the FISA applications to surveil Page.
In an interview with Bondi that touched on impeachment and the FISA scandal, Wallace noted that Trump “tweeted late yesterday that we, Fox News Sunday, should not even be doing an interview with James Comey or with Adam Schiff” and asked Bondi whether Trump understands that the media is obliged to tell both sides of a story. Bondi defended Trump but said she disagrees with Trump’s take since Wallace did a good job of grilling Comey.
“Of course he does,” she said. “I think he so tired of hearing all these lies and frankly. I’m going to disagree with the president right now because I’m glad you had James Comey on because you caught him in multiple misrepresentations.”
A win for Trump
As Bondi pointed out, Wallace’s interview with Comey actually went quite badly for the former FBI leader. Wallace pursued Comey over the FBI’s abuse of the FISA process on his watch.
Comey was reduced to sparring over the meaning of basic terms like “vindication” as Wallace backed him into plain contradictions, forcing Comey to simultaneously apologize for and downplay a pattern of misconduct uncovered in Horowitz’s report. Wallace got Comey to concede that he was “wrong” about the FBI’s use of the FISA process, which he had previously said was correct and appropriate.
“He’s right, I was wrong,” Comey said, according to Fox. “I was overconfident as director in our procedures,” he added, noting that what happened “was not acceptable.”
The interview came mere days after Wallace scolded the media for ignoring the IG report in a speech at the Newseum in Washington, where he nevertheless attacked President Trump for a “sustained assault” on journalism that was destroying the public’s faith in the media. Trump didn’t give Wallace credit for eliciting Comey’s admission, but he did acknowledge Comey’s mea culpa and demanded an apology on Twitter.
Trump and Wallace might not always see eye-to-eye, but this was one scenario in which the evidence was powerful enough for them to agree.