Former Fox News anchor and Sirius XM host Megyn Kelly has a warning for Chris Wallace now that he’s left for CNN: Don’t think you’re going to have an easy time of it.
On her April 15 show, Kelly related to radio host Buck Sexton that she considered jumping to CNN when she left Fox News, but she ended up pursuing a different path with a daytime show on NBC.
While that failed, Kelly said a defection to CNN would have been even more of a bloodbath, considering the network’s viewership.
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“I considered going to CNN,” Kelly revealed during a discussion about the network’s woes.
“CNN made me a huge offer, huge, [by] Jeff Zucker. And I said no, Buck, because I knew — who’s my fanbase going to be over there?
“I knew who my fans were, and I knew that my Fox viewers were not going to follow me to CNN and that the CNN viewers were going to hate my guts,” she continued.
“So I decided to sort of get out of the politics game and go do morning TV and try to do something that was more Oprahesque.”
“But I understood switching political ships was not going to lead to success either,” she added. “And I can see [Wallace] suffering from that very problem right now.”
Both Kelly and Wallace faced similar situations when they departed Fox News. During the 2016 election cycle, Kelly had been a noted critic of Donald Trump, a situation which came to a head during a famous debate exchange:
Titik balik kepresidenan Amerika tahun 2016
Megyn Kelly: “You’ve called women you don’t like – fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals”
Donald Trump: “Only Rosie O’Donnell” pic.twitter.com/twHSMXza9a
— AmerEurope (@AmerEurope) June 19, 2021
Wallace, meanwhile, had made it clear privately to Fox News network executives that he was unhappy with the network’s commentary hosts — particularly Tucker Carlson and his “Patriot Purge” documentary about the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion. After he left the network for CNN’s new streaming service, CNN+, he confirmed in an interview that he found the situation “unsustainable.”
“I’m fine with opinion: conservative opinion, liberal opinion,” Wallace told the New York Times in March.
“But when people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable. I spent a lot of 2021 looking to see if there was a different place for me to do my job.”
In the interview with Kelly, Sexton noted this wasn’t the smartest or most “ethical” escape plan for Wallace.
“In what world is Chris Wallace going to CNN because it’s so ethical and journalistic? I think he’s delusional,” Sexton said.
Kelly noted it hardly mattered anyway since the streaming network has almost no pickup.
“Who is the moron at CNN who actually thought ‘you know what we need with our ratings in the toilet? More of us,'” Kelly said.
“We need more CNN. There’s more appetite for these anchors who no one will watch when it’s free — well ish — in primetime, and they’re gonna pay extra out of their pocket to watch them cook or talk about books or interview people who are about 200 years old.”
And Wallace was never popular ratings-wise at Fox News, either, as Kelly pointed out — he was “in last place, every week, every year, every month, he was always last.”
However, Wallace was seen as an independent voice from a famous journalistic family — his father was legendary CBS News journalist Mike Wallace — which gave him cachet. At CNN, that’s a different story; Wallace acknowledged in the Times interview that many of the viewers on CNN wouldn’t be impressed that he turned his back on Fox, instead holding it against him that he was employed there for so long.
“Some people might have drawn the line earlier, or at a different point,” he said. “I think Fox has changed over the course of the last year and a half. But I can certainly understand where somebody would say, ‘Gee, you were a slow learner, Chris.’”
That could also be said about his switch to CNN+.
Last week, journalist Jon Nicosia, former managing editor of Mediaite, reported that sources were saying Wallace was “having daily breakdowns” over the “miserable launch” of the streaming service.
The source told Nicosia that Wallace wants a “CNN show or is threatening to walk.”
“He is having staffers count how many times a day his promo is playing,” Nicosia’s source said, adding, “He’s telling anyone that will listen he wants [Chris] Cuomo’s old time slot.”
Nicosia also noted the CNN+ streaming service was doing so poorly it was struggling to draw over 10,000 viewers a day at times.
SOURCE: Chris Wallace is “having daily breakdowns” over the “miserable launch” of @CNNplus. Wants a “CNN show or is threatening to walk” they go on. “He is having staffers count how many times a day his promo is playing”
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) April 12, 2022
SOURCE CONT’D: “He’s telling anyone that will listen he wants Cuomo’s old time slot”
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) April 13, 2022
If Wallace gets it, it might be a pyrrhic victory, anyhow. In February, Forbes reported CNN’s prime time audience had dropped a staggering 69 percent over the same period in 2021. That “improved” to a mere 56 percent drop in March, putting it solidly in third place behind Fox and MSNBC.
Chris Wallace won’t arrest the decline, either. The network’s base will likely never accept him, no matter what his establishment bona fides are. Fox News doesn’t want him back. And while there are surely smaller roles to be filled at other legacy media outlets, Wallace will likely never regain the platform he had on “Fox News Sunday.”
When Megyn Kelly set out from Fox News, she didn’t succeed at first — but she also didn’t fall into the trap of going to CNN, thinking its hard-left audience would accept her as an independent voice once she left Fox.
It’s a lesson Chris Wallace is learning the hard way.
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