Chris Wallace

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Chris Wallace
Chris Wallace (cropped).jpg
Wallace in Washington, D.C., in 2010
Born (1947-10-12) October 12, 1947 (age 72)
Alma materHarvard University (BA)
OccupationHost of Fox News Sunday
Years active1964–present
Political partyDemocratic
  • Elizabeth Jane Farrell (m. 1973; div.)
  • Lorraine (Martin) Smothers (m. 1997)

Christopher W. Wallace (born October 12, 1947)[1] is an American television anchor and political commentator who is the host of the Fox Broadcasting Company/Fox News program Fox News Sunday. He worked for NBC between 1975–1989, and ABC between 1989–2003, before joining Fox. Wallace is the only person to have served as host and moderator of more than one of the major American Sunday morning political talk shows, which he did during his time at NBC.[2]

Wallace has won three Emmy Awards, the Dupont-Columbia Silver Baton Award, and a Paul White lifetime achievement award.[3]

Early life and early career[edit]

Wallace was born in Chicago, Illinois,[1] to longtime CBS 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace and Norma Kaphan.[4] Wallace is Jewish[5] and both his parents were Jewish.[6][7] His parents divorced when he was one year old. He grew up in a home with his mother and his stepfather, former CBS News President Bill Leonard.[8] He did not develop a relationship with his biological father until the age of 14.[9] Leonard gave him early exposure to political journalism, hiring him as an assistant to Walter Cronkite at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

Wallace as a reporter for WBBM-TV, 1975

Wallace attended the Hotchkiss School and Harvard College.[10] He first reported news on-air for WHRB, the student radio station at Harvard. He memorably covered the 1969 student occupation of University Hall and was detained by Cambridge police, using his one phone call to sign off a report from Cambridge City Jail with "This is Chris Wallace in custody."[11]

Although accepted at Yale Law School, Wallace instead took a job with The Boston Globe.[12] He says he realized he wanted to move to television when he noticed all the reporters at the 1972 political conventions were watching the proceedings on TV instead of in person. For a time in the early 1970s, he worked for the Chicago station WBBM-TV, which was owned and operated by CBS.[13]

Network and cable television journalist[edit]

Wallace began his network journalism career with NBC in 1975, where he stayed for 14 years, as a reporter with WNBC-TV in New York City. Wallace then transferred to NBC's Washington bureau as a political correspondent for NBC News and later served as Washington co-anchor and news reader for the Today show in 1982. He also served as chief White House correspondent (1982–1989), anchor of the Sunday edition of NBC Nightly News (1982–1984, 1986–1987), and moderator of Meet the Press (1987–1988).

Some journalists have described Wallace's style as confrontational. During President Ronald Reagan's news conference in March 1987, when Reagan admitted to dealing arms for hostages, Wallace asked Reagan why he had denied that Israel was involved with the arms sales to Iran "when you knew that wasn't true."[14]

Wallace left NBC in 1989 for ABC. At ABC News, Wallace was the senior correspondent for Primetime Thursday and occasionally hosted Nightline. During the first Gulf War in 1991, he reported from Tel Aviv on the Iraqi Scud missiles attacks. At the time, the Israeli government did not want to advertise where the Scuds landed, to prevent the Iraqis from making adjustments to their launchers. On one episode of Nightline, Wallace started describing the location in Tel Aviv where a Scud missile landed. Host Ted Koppel cut him off and asked him to point to a general area rather than give a specific location.[15]

Wallace interviews Maryland governor Larry Hogan in 2015

After another 14 years at ABC, Wallace left in 2003 to join Fox News. Wallace began hosting Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace in 2003 after replacing Tony Snow and is an occasional guest on the Howie Carr Show on Boston's WRKO.

He has remarked in the past that his work at Fox opened his eyes to what critics cite as bias in the mainstream press. Wallace has stated, "Fox News wouldn't exist if it weren't for this kind of stuff going on in the mainstream media. That's why people are fed up with that and want the antidote to it because they get it and they've gotten it for years – the so-called bias in the objective press."[16]

The Commission on Presidential Debates selected Chris Wallace as moderator of the third presidential debate, held on October 19, 2016, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This was the first time a Fox News anchor had moderated a general election presidential debate.[17] After he was selected, Wallace controversially said, "it's not my job" to fact-check candidates, but that it was the job of the opposing candidate.[18] After the debate, Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post said that despite her strong disapproval of other Fox News commentators, "No one could watch the final debate and deny that Chris Wallace is among the best in the business."[19]

In July 2018, Wallace conducted a tough interview with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Wallace questioned Putin about why so many of his political opponents end up dead and, in a notable exchange, sought to hand Putin papers containing the indictment of 12 Russian agents for interference in the 2016 election (Putin refused to touch the papers).[20][21] According to The Washington Post's Aaron Blake, Putin was "clearly frustrated by a journalist actually challenging him".[20]


Personal life[edit]

Wallace has said that despite his blood relationship with his father, Mike, his stepfather, Bill Leonard, had far more of an impact on his life. Wallace said that Leonard was "the single most important person in my life."[25] Wallace first developed a relationship with his father in his teens, after his older brother Peter died in 1962 climbing a mountain in Greece.[26]

Wallace has been married twice. In 1973, he married Elizabeth Farrell, with whom he has four children: Peter,[27] Megan, Andrew, and Catherine.[28] In 1997, he married Lorraine Smothers (née Martin, born 1959), the former wife of Dick Smothers.[29] Lorraine has two children from her previous marriage: Sarah Smothers and Remick Smothers.[30][31]


On October 11, 2006, The Washington Post reported that Wallace had been a registered Democrat for more than two decades. Wallace explained his party affiliation as pragmatism, saying that being a Democrat is the only feasible means of participating in the political process in heavily Democratic Washington, DC. He maintained that he had voted for candidates from both major parties in the past.[32]


  1. ^ a b Murray, Michael D., ed. (1998). Encyclopedia of Television News. Greenwood. p. 273. ISBN 978-1573561082.
  2. ^ Bevan, Tom (September 18, 2015). "The New Dean of Sunday Mornings". RealClear Politics. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  3. ^ Feloni, Richard (December 9, 2014). "50-Year Broadcast Veteran Chris Wallace On What Common Career Mistake To Avoid". Business Insider. Retrieved May 27, 2019. He's won three Emmys, a DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton award, and a Paul White lifetime achievement award.
  4. ^ Kennedy, Randy (October 24, 1994). "William Leonard, 78, Former Head of CBS News". The New York Times. Retrieved June 27, 2011. After retiring Mr. Leonard lived in Washington with his second wife, the former Norma Kaphan Wallace, ex-wife of the "60 Minutes" correspondent, Mike Wallace.
  5. ^ 7 Things About Debate Moderator Chris Wallace — Starting With He’s Jewish by Thea Glassman, The Forward, October 19, 2016
  6. ^ Tim Weiner (April 8, 2012). "Mike Wallace, CBS Pioneer of '60 Minutes,' Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish By Abigail Pogrebin retrieved March 30, 2013.
  8. ^ Shea, Danny (April 13, 2009). "Chris Wallace On Playing Newsman With His Stepfather, Why Roger Ailes Is Like Roone Arledge". Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  9. ^ "Newsman Mike Wallace dead at 93 –". April 8, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  10. ^ Yung, Jim. "Famous Alumni: Your House's Claim to Fame". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  11. ^
    • Levinson, Arlene (March 15, 1989). "Harvard Alumni Plan Reunion To Mark Shutting Down University in 1969". The Associated Press.
    • Lambert, Craig, ed. (March–April 2019). "Echoes of 1969". Harvard Magazine. Vol. 121 no. 4. pp. 52–60. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  12. ^ Singer, Jonathan (July 14, 2005). "Son of '60 Minutes' icon makes his own mark at Fox News". The Hill. p. 19.
  13. ^ Anonymous (April 13, 2010). "Harvard's WHRB celebrates 70 years – Cambridge, Massachusetts – Cambridge Chronicle". Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  14. ^ Church, George J.; Beckwith, David; Gorey, Hays (March 30, 1987). "Reagan: Well, He Survived". Time. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  15. ^ Richmond, Ray (January 20, 1991). "Networks wary of broadcasting military secrets". Orange County Register. p. A05.
  16. ^ "Chris Wallace: Media Bias 'Astonishing'". October 16, 2005. Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  17. ^ "CPD Announces 2016 Debate Moderators". Commission on Presidential Debates.
  18. ^ Why moderators aren’t the best option for fact-checking debates, By David Uberti, CJR, September 12, 2016.
  19. ^ The mainstreaming of racism on Fox News, By Jennifer Rubin October 26, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Blake, Aaron. "Analysis | Fox News's Chris Wallace gives Putin the grilling Trump won't". Washington Post. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  21. ^ Wilstein, Matt (July 16, 2018). "Fox News' Chris Wallace Presses Vladimir Putin in Tense Interview After Donald Trump Gives Him a Pass". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "Paul White Award". Radio Television Digital News Association. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  23. ^ "Chris Wallace, Winner of the 2017 ICFJ Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism". International Center for Journalists. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  24. ^ "Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace Honored With 'Tex' McCrary Journalism Award". Mediaite. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  25. ^ "Fox News anchor Chris Wallace credits his success to 'three giants of broadcasting'". The Washington Post. March 8, 2012.
  26. ^ Deborah Solomon. "The Newsman Makes News". The New York Times. October 8, 2006.
  27. ^ "Weddings/Celebrations; Jennifer Breheny, Peter Wallace". The New York Times. June 27, 2004.
  28. ^ Martha Smilgis. "For Chris Wallace of NBC's Prime Time, His 60 Minutes Rivals Are Dan, Morley, Harry—and Dad". People. July 30, 1979.
  29. ^ "Ex-wife Of Dick Smothers". Chicago Tribune. September 21, 1986.
  30. ^ Erik Meers. "Passages". People. July 21, 1997.
  31. ^ Film Reference: Chris Wallace Biography (1947–). Retrieved April 8, 2012.
  32. ^ Argetsinger, Amy (October 11, 2006). "Chris Wallace, Card-Carrying Democrat?". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2008.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Marvin Kalb
Meet the Press moderator
Succeeded by
Garrick Utley
Preceded by
Tony Snow
Fox News Sunday anchor