Chris Wallace, whose directing of two presidential debates and insightful interviews with world leaders made him the top anchor for Fox News’ journalistic ranks, announced Sunday that he had decided to leave the network owned by Rupert Murdoch after 18 years.
He will become a host for CNN +, CNN’s new streaming service that will debut next year.
His departure from Fox News came as a surprise to the television news industry and will deprive the network of a prominent figure who has been the face of its influential Sunday show, “Fox News Sunday,” and the network’s first host to receive an Emmy Award Nomination for his work.
“This is the last time, and I say it with real sadness, we will see each other like this,” Wallace told viewers at the end of his Sunday broadcast.
“I want to try something new, go beyond politics to all the things that interest me; I’m ready for a new adventure, ”said Wallace. And I hope you check it out. And so, dear friends, for the last time, that’s it for today. Have a good week. And I hope they keep watching Fox News Sunday. “
Wallace covered the Reagan White House as a correspondent for NBC News (and was a brief moderator of “Meet the Press”) before Roger Ailes, the co-founder of Fox News, hired him from ABC News in 2003 to host the main Murdoch’s political chain. news program.
An equal opportunity interrogator for Democrats and Republicans, Wallace proved to be an outlier at times on Fox News, particularly in recent years when the network’s conservative opinion anchors closed ranks behind former President Donald J. Trump. Wallace’s criticism of Trump earned him reprimands from some viewers and the president’s own Twitter account, but it also irritated liberals who wanted him to denounce his partisan colleagues.
In his comments on air Sunday, Wallace said that “the bosses here at Fox promised me that they would never interfere with a guest I booked or a question I asked, and they kept that promise. I’ve had the freedom to report to the best of my ability, to cover the stories that I think are important, to hold our country’s leaders to account. It has been a great journey. “
The presenter’s contract was ending at the end of this year and the network wanted to keep it, according to a person familiar with the internal deliberations. “Fox News Sunday” will be temporarily hosted by a rotation of the network’s news anchors, including Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, John Roberts, Neil Cavuto and others.
CNN said Mr. Wallace’s new show would appear on weekdays and “feature interviews with newsmakers on politics, business, sports and culture.”
In a statement distributed by CNN, Wallace said: “I look forward to the new freedom and flexibility that streaming offers to interview the leading figures in the news landscape and find new ways to tell stories.”
Regarding the departure of Mr. Wallace, Fox News said in a statement: “We are extremely proud of our journalism and the all-star team that Chris Wallace has been a part of for 18 years. The legacy of ‘Fox News Sunday’ will continue with our star journalists, many of whom will rotate in the role until a permanent presenter is appointed. “