For MAGA fans, the schadenfreude quotient in this story is so high that I recommend you not consume all of it in one sitting.
The dose could be fatal.
Imagine being Chris Wallace and parachuting out of a plum Sunday morning slot with the most influential TV news network in the U.S. for a job not at CNN but at a start-up attached to CNN. A streaming service, no less, one which people are supposedly going to pay money to watch even though it’s unclear why anyone would do so. Such are Jeff Zucker’s persuasive powers, though, that he managed to talk Wallace into taking a gamble of that magnitude, leveraging Wallace’s obvious contempt for Fox’s political drift. That’s one thing about Zucker: As sleazy as he is and as bad as he’s been for American politics, his staff seems to have adored him. CNN anchors have been grieving on- and off-air over the past few days as if a parent just died.
But now, suddenly, Zucker’s gone. And not only is he gone but CNN is in the process of being transferred to new ownership, assuming WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery is finalized. It’s anyone’s guess whether Discovery will see the same value in CNN+ that Jeff Zucker (and pretty much only Jeff Zucker) did. Wallace is suddenly alone in a rowboat and the waters around him are getting rough.
I’d be “irate” too.
Chris Wallace is “irate” at the ousting of CNN president Jeff Zucker and his future at the news network is uncertain, Radar has been told…
In wake of the decision from WarnerMedia suits to oust Jeff Zucker, Wallace is said to be “second guessing his decision” even though he is believed to be earning $8 to $10 million per year…
“Chris is the type of person who makes it known if he doesn’t like something,” said a TV industry insider.
“He went over there for Zucker and now Zucker is gone. Wallace feels that he has been stiffed. He’s got no staff, no Executive Producer and the guy he gave up a prized gig for has just walked out the door.”
He can’t go back to Fox News, obviously. MSNBC or bust, Chris!
You know what, though? This could actually work out okay for Wallace. Yesterday Brian Stelter had writer Ken Auletta on his CNN Sunday morning show to discuss the fallout from Zucker’s firing and Auletta made a point common to criticisms of Stelter’s network. CNN’s value as an outlet lies in reporting news (remember the praise for Clarissa Ward during the Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco?), not in having their anchors opine inanely during what currently passes for news coverage. The network might retrench, said Auletta, and devote more resources to live reporting during international developments. Notably, John Malone, a key investor in the Discovery merger, appears to share that opinion:
Stelter then rolled the clip of Malone saying, “I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing.”…
Auletta continued, “If I was at CNN and I was an employee and I loved working under Jeff Zucker for understandable reasons I would be concerned.”
“And if you watch CNN, the anchors are much more animated with opinions than they were when Ted Turner started the network,” The New Yorker writer added.
“True,” Stelter concurred.
“So I would be a little nervous if I was at CNN, yes,” concluded Auletta.
Malone and Discovery could decide to clean house and pivot back to newsgathering. Get rid of the Don Lemons (and Brian Stelters) and shift away from tedious Democrat/Republican crossfire-type debates on the political news of the day and back towards correspondents scattered throughout the world, bringing actual information to American news junkies. You know who’d be a decent guy to anchor an operation like that?
Chris Wallace, that’s who. The “hard news” guy at Fox. Maybe Discovery will flush CNN+, send Anderson Cooper packing, and offer Wallace a spot in the primetime line-up to do real news for people who don’t want to watch Hannity or Maddow run through the daily talking points at 9 p.m. I bet Wallace would be okay with that.
One other fun detail from the Radar story on Wallace, by the way, is that he supposedly “hates” his new colleague, Jake Tapper. I wonder why:
Jake Tapper to Tim Murtaugh: "Okay, you know what, I'm not Chris Wallace. Thank you, Tim, appreciate it. Thank you so much"
[cuts Murtaugh off the air] pic.twitter.com/ZBoSDNyGEO
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) September 30, 2020
There’s a lot more to the Tapper/Wallace feud than just that clip, as this enjoyable Newsweek piece reminds us. Zucker supposedly reassured Wallace prior to signing him that his own “status” wouldn’t be compromised by having to coexist with Tapper, but now Zucker’s gone.
Maybe Discovery will have him and Tapper co-host a show together. Wouldn’t that be nice.
Here’s Stelter assuring viewers yesterday that Zucker may be gone but CNN isn’t going anywhere, unfortunately. Exit question: Are we sure Zucker’s the last domino to fall at the network? If Chris Cuomo has dirt any of his former colleagues, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t leak it given the bad blood between him and the Zucker fan club over there.
At the end of today's program I attempted to channel my CNN colleagues as I said: We lost our leader this week, but we're not going anywhere. pic.twitter.com/Ao3m60gCvd
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 7, 2022