Fox News host Chris Wallace makes it clear that he does not approve of the way President Donald Trump trashes the media. However, he said Thursday night that Trump “has a point” when he accuses the media of being biased against him.
Wallace was honored Thursday night by the International Center for Journalists, which presented Wallace with its Founder Award for Excellence in Journalism.
Wallace has been host of “Fox News Sunday” since 2003. Before that, he spent 14 years at ABC News. From 1982 through 1989 Wallace worked for NBC News, including as moderator of “Meet the Press” in 1987 and 1988.
The award was in honor of Wallace’s “tough but fair” interviews.
Wallace waded in the dispute between President Donald Trump and the media, but gave each a piece of his mind.
“Let me be clear — whatever side you’re on in the debate over journalism these days — you’re not going to like some of what I have to say,” Wallace began.
Wallace alleged that Trump has grappled with the media since the inception of his campaign.
“President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on a free press in our history,” Wallace said. “Since early in the campaign, he has done everything he can to delegitimize the media, attacking us institutionally and individually.”
He noted, for example, that Trump called the media “fake news” 140 times between January and the end of October and labeled the media the nation’s enemy.
“And that was precisely his point. If we report negatively about something he’s doing — we are hurting the country.”
Wallace soon ended that statement as “the easy part of what I want to say tonight.”
He then told the room full of media leaders that they had a part in creating and maintaining the feud with Trump.
“There’s an old saying — ‘Even hypochondriacs sometimes get sick.’” Wallace added. “And even if President Trump is trying to undermine the press for his own calculated reasons, when he talks about bias in the media — unfairness — I think he has a point.”
Wallace went on to admit that many of his colleagues “think this President has gone so far over the line bashing the media, it has given them an excuse to cross the line themselves, to push back.”
“As tempting as that may be, I think it’s a big mistake.”
Wallace said the media should keep to the standard of objectivity.
“That doesn’t mean we’re stenographers. If the president or anyone we’re covering says something untrue or does something clearly over the line, we can and should report that,” Wallace said.
“But we shouldn’t be drawn into becoming players on the field, trying to match the people we cover in invective,” he added. “It’s not our role. We’re not as good at it as they are.”
He also noted that when the media becomes one more player on the political field, it has lost something.
“And we’re giving up our special place in our democracy.” he said. “There’s enough to report about this president that we don’t need to offer opinions or put our thumb on the scale.”
“Be as straight and accurate and dispassionate as we first learned to be as reporters.”