Fox News anchor Chris Wallace is leaving the network to host a weekday talk show for rival channel CNN’s streaming service.
The Fox News Sunday moderator abruptly announced that this week’s episode of the Sunday talk show would be his last, informing viewers it was with “real sadness” that he was departing both the weekly program and the network.
“Eighteen years ago, the bosses here at Fox promised me they would never interfere with a guest I booked or a question I asked, and they kept that promise,” Wallace said while announcing his exit at the end of his broadcast. “I have been free to report to the best of my ability to cover those stories I think are important to hold our country’s leaders to account. It’s been a great ride.”
A source familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that Wallace is joining CNN+, the new paid streaming service from the rival cable network. CNN host Brian Stelter later confirmed the news during the Sunday broadcast of media talk show Reliable Sources.
“Chris Wallace surprising everyone by leaving Fox News. It turns out he is joining CNN, specifically to become an anchor on CNN+, the streaming service that will be launching in early 2022,” Stelter reported.
“I’m thrilled to join CNN+ after decades in cable news. I’m excited in the flexibility streaming forwards and finding new ways to tell stories,” Wallace said in a CNN press release. “I’m honored to join booker and his great team and I can’t wait to get started.”
According to the network’s statement, the ex-Fox star will host a weekday streaming program that “will feature interviews with newsmakers across politics, business, sports and culture. The new weekday show will contribute to CNN+’s slate of original, live programming and will be available at launch.”
During his farewell monologue, Wallace noted that during his time at Fox News he covered five presidential elections and interviewed every U.S. president since George H.W. Bush, as well as world leaders like Vladimir Putin and Emanuel Macron.
“It may sound corny, but I feel we’ve built a community here,” he intoned. “There’s a lot you can do on Sundays. The fact you’ve chosen to spend this hour with us is something I cherish.”
He concluded: “I have decided to leave Fox. I want to try something new to go beyond politics to all the things I’m interested in. I’m ready for a new adventure, and I hope you’ll check it out. And so, for the last time, dear friends, that’s it for today, have a great week.”
In a brief statement, Fox News Media remarked on the highly respected newsman leaving the network after nearly two decades. “We are extremely proud of our journalism and the stellar team that Chris Wallace was a part of for 18 years,” the network said on Sunday. “The legacy of FOX News Sunday will continue with our star journalists, many of whom will rotate in the position until a permanent host is named.”
Fox News further stated that it will rely on rotating anchors for the Sunday show until a permanent replacement has been announced.
Wallace represents yet another of a series of high-profile departures from Fox News’ so-called “straight news” division in recent years, starting with longtime anchor Shepard Smith in late 2019 following a power struggle with star Tucker Carlson. Since then, correspondent Catherine Herridge left for CBS News and White House reporter Kristin Fisher jumped ship to join CNN, among other exits.
And in January of this year, Fox News ousted veteran politics editor Chris Stirewalt, who not only defended the network’s accurate election-night call of Arizona that enraged then-President Donald Trump but also mocked Trump’s baseless election fraud claims.
Furthermore, Wallace also reportedly objected to Fox News management—alongside chief political anchor Bret Baier—about Carlson’s recent three-part Jan. 6 docu-series Patriot Purge. The inflammatory Fox Nation special puts forth a number of baseless and false theories about the Capitol insurrection, including the conspiracy theory that the riots were a “false flag” orchestrated by the FBI.
Two longtime Fox News contributors, meanwhile, cited the documentary as the key reason why they recently left the network.
The Fox News Sunday moderator isn’t the only franchise-defining personality to say goodbye to a network this month. Brian Williams, who had been with NBC News for 23 years, signed off on MSNBC for the final time last week.