Chris Wallace: ‘News literacy in the 21st century is literacy’


Appearing this week as the featured speaker at a News Literacy Project breakfast in Washington, Chris Wallace, the anchor of Fox News Sunday, called NLP “a terrific program.”

The 52-year veteran of the broadcast industry added, “News literacy in the 21st century is literacy.” And, he continued, “Knowing how to consume and judge the news is as important today as reading, writing and arithmetic.”

Wallace, moderator of the third presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in October, also discussed President-elect Trump’s relationship with the news media, his own role as a Sunday talk show anchor and his experience working at Fox News for the past 13 years.

Wallace said he was not concerned with Trump’s efforts to bypass the press through the use of Twitter and social media, which he called “the wave of the present.” He noted that President Obama has a sophisticated program to communicate through social media as well.

But he acknowledged that the relationship between Trump and the news media will remain “contentious.” Trump was fiercely critical of the mainstream media throughout the campaign and has continued to attack it as president-elect.

“We’re big boys,” Wallace said. “You try to work your way around it.”

Trump, he noted, is hardly unique among politicians in making false statements. “They all lie. They all spin,” he said. “Trump may be more egregious. It may be on an order of magnitude. But it’s not night and day” compared to candidates and officeholders.

“I view my job as being the cop on the beat and trying to separate fact from fiction,” he said.

Wallace spent 14 years at ABC News, holding several high-profile positions, and at NBC News as a White House correspondent for seven years before joining Fox News in 2003. He said he has not experienced any more partisan pressure at Fox than at the other networks and has complete freedom to choose his guests and how he will interview them.

When it comes to the public’s reaction to his interviews, he said, “My sweet spot is to be equally condemned by both sides.” This has run the gamut from being called “a Communist” to “a right-wing sellout” whose father, longtime CBS newsman Mike Wallace, “must be spinning in his grave.”

Though he does not begrudge Trump his tweets, Wallace said he does not use the platform. “I figure I already have enough ways to blow up my career,” he quipped.

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