Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace signed off Sunday, surprising his viewers and many of his coworkers by announcing his departure, effective immediately, from the network he anchored since 2003. Shortly after Wallace's announcement, CNN reported he will be joining the new CNN Plus streaming service.
Wallace's contract with Fox News is almost up, and "he turned down an offer for a multiyear extension and pay raise to leave for CNN," The Associated Press reports. The decision to leave was entirely Wallace's, and "it has left many of his colleagues 'shellshocked,'" The Washington Post adds, citing a person at Fox familiar with the decision. "The news was so closely held that even Wallace's panelists on today's show had no idea it was coming."
"Wallace is leaving Fox at a time when the network has been beset by internal conflicts, largely stemming from disputes over its balance between news and commentary — many within the company fearing the latter outweighs the former," the Post notes.
Wallace was one of three prominent straight-news journalists at Fox News. Shepard Smith left for CNBC in 2019, so only Bret Baier now remains at the network. Baier and a handful of other journalists will take turns hosting Fox News Sunday for the time being. Wallace and Baier had recently voiced their complaints to Fox News top executives about opinion host Tucker Carlson's revisionist history of the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, NPR reported last month.
Wallace's departure is "a major loss for Fox News, no question about it," Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz tells AP. "He has the kind of seasoned judgment that only comes from so many years of covering political issues and he may be the best debate moderator ever."
"Among journalists on the cable side, the fact that he was running a straight and hard-nosed Sunday show was a big deal," Carl Cameron, who retired as chief Fox News political correspondent in 2017, told the Post.
Fox News said in a statement Sunday, "We are extremely proud of our journalism and the stellar team that Chris Wallace was a part of for 18 years."