In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Tuesday, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace accused the major news outlets—including his own—of “putting gasoline on the fire” of the Ferguson riots by setting up to cover at night before riots even broke out, in essence asking rioters to “do your worst, because we’ll be there.”
In a candid interview touching on his experiences in the news media and his opinions of the news media, Wallace provided several insights from an anchor’s perspective on the importance of questioning the media, focusing particularly on the irresponsible nature of the coverage of Ferguson. A few highlights:
On Fox News arising as a reaction to the left-leaning coverage of other news outlets:
We’re providing fair and balanced coverage, and part of that is because many of the other networks are tilted to the left, and we provide both sides of the story. … I defy anyone to watch Fox News Sunday and say the show tilts right or left. We’re equal opportunity inquisitors.
On the breaking of the old mainstream media monopoly and the importance of questioning the facts presented by news outlets:
Well, we probably were not as well served by the fact that there were so few sources of news back then. There were points of views and sides of stories that weren’t expressed. I don’t have a problem with letting a thousand flowers bloom. It puts an onus on the news consumer — and maybe it’s good not to put too much trust in Uncle Walter, or anyone else.
On news outlets making the situation in Ferguson worse:
I will say this — and I was on vacation the main week of the riots — but I was troubled at the idea that all the cable networks, including my own, scheduled specials to cover the riots at night, before there were even riots those nights. In effect, it was putting gasoline on the fire and saying, "Come on out and do your worst, because we’ll be there." That was a mistake.
On whether or not Fox’s coverage of Ferguson was biased:
I can only talk about myself, and I was very proud of our debate with Jesse Jackson and Ben Carson. We got different views from inside the African-American community, personal responsibility, grievances, and to what degree the focus should be on the police and to what degree the focus should be on dysfunction among young black males.