Fox News anchor Chris Wallace offered a strong rebuke to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand during her Fox News town hall Sunday, telling the senator it was “impolite” to criticize the network given that they had offered her a place on their airwaves.
The issue got going after Gillibrand pivoted from a question about abortion rights into an attack on the network’s rhetoric around the subject.
“What we have created, unfortunately, is a false choice and a false narrative,” Gillibrand said of the polarizing issue. “And Chris, I want to talk about the role that Fox News plays in this because it’s a problem. I can tell you before President Trump gave his State of the Union, Fox News talked about infanticide. Infanticide doesn’t exist.”
But Wallace would have none of it, cutting her off mid-sentence.
“Senator, I just want to say, we’ve brought you here for an hour. We’ve treated you very fairly. I understand that maybe to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News you want to attack us. I’m not sure it’s frankly very polite when we’ve invited you to be here,” he said.
Gillibrand said she would proceed in a “polite” way before Wallace again interjected urging her to move off of the Fox News subject altogether.
The moment shows that while Fox News has been willing to give Democrats access to their vast audience, its anchors will push back when the network itself comes under attack as it has routinely with each Democratic candidate who has chosen to appear. Sen. Bernie Sanders also earned a scolding during his town hall in April with Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
“We are very grateful that you’re here,” Baier said. “We are giving you an hour of substance and talk on our airwaves so we can get over the Fox thing, if you’re all right with that.”
Fox News’ hard news anchors, however, have shown far more reluctance to openly defend their opinion side colleagues. When South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg did his Fox News town hall last month, he took pointed jabs as the channel’s Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham — which went unchallenged by Wallace.
“When you’ve got Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make America dirty. When you’ve got Laura Ingraham comparing detention centers with children in cages to summer camps. Summer camps. Then there is a reason why anybody has to swallow hard and think twice before participating in this media ecosystem,” Buttigieg said.