President Donald Trump represents the “most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Fox News host Chris Wallace said in a blunt assessment on Wednesday night.
Unlike other prominent figures at Fox News like Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham, who have become de facto mouthpieces for the Trump administration, Wallace has regularly criticized Trump ― and the president has returned the favor. But speaking at an event at the Newseum in D.C., Wallace was especially critical.
“I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Wallace said, according to the Guardian. “He has done everything he can to undercut the media, to try and delegitimize us, and I think his purpose is clear: to raise doubts when we report critically about him and his administration that we can be trusted. Back in 2017, he tweeted something that said far more about him than it did about us: ‘The fake news media is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people.’”
Wallace has gained some acclaim during the Trump years for being willing to ask right-wing politicians tough questions during their appearances on Fox News. Trump hasn’t appreciated that.
Last month, for instance, the president tweeted angry low-blows after Wallace grilled House Minority Whip Steve Scalise on impeachment.
“[Scalise] blew the nasty & obnoxious Chris Wallace (will never be his father, Mike!) away on Chris’s lowest rated (unless I’m on) morning show,” Trump tweeted, referencing Wallace’s late father who had a legendary career on “60 Minutes.” “This kind of dumb and unfair interview would never have happened in the [Fox News] past. Great job Steve!”
Citing polls from the Newseum itself, Wallace said these sorts of attacks from Trump are working ― Americans trust the media even less than usual.
“Let’s be honest, the president’s attacks have done some damage,” Wallace said, according to the Guardian.
Cover: In this Oct. 19, 2016 file photo, moderator Chris Wallace guides the discussion between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas. Wallace, who just turned 70, signed a contract extension to continue as “Fox News Sunday” host. (Joe Raedle/Pool via AP, File)