“Chris becomes the next voice of realism at Fox News, but I’m not sure that he replaces Shep,” said Conor Powell, a former Fox News foreign correspondent. “Chris is a really good interviewer and plays an important role. But he only has one show once a week. Shep was on every day.”

Wallace’s contract keeps him at Fox News through the 2020 election. His journalistic credibility is also good for business, helping Fox News host presidential debates, attract advertisers and charge distributors like Comcast Corp. higher fees to carry the network.

“If it turns out you’re not a news organization anymore, you lose bargaining leverage with cable operators,” Tyndall said.

“That’s been their mantra for decades: ‘We’re a real news organization. We have Shep Smith and Chris Wallace.’”