First Person

Outside the Fox

From Harvard to the Globe to his own Sunday talk show on Fox, Chris Wallace, 61, son of 60 Minutes legend Mike Wallace, has never shied from asking tough questions -- even of his colleagues.

By Doug Most
June 14, 2009
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Who is harder to argue with, your Fox cohorts or your father? The interesting thing about growing up with my father is arguing with politicians has always been easy. I trained at the major league level from childhood.

That video of you challenging your Fox colleagues took on a life of its own. Do you still hear about it today? Occasionally somebody will ask about it. It's what Fox news is all about -- don't follow the party line. I suspect had I done the same thing at MSNBC and challenged [Rachel] Maddow or [Keith] Olbermann, I'd have gotten my walking papers.

Really? I don't think they're open to alternative viewpoints.

You're a registered Democrat, but your politics seem to veer to the right. I live in Washington; the Democratic primary decides who will be elected, not unlike Boston. If you can't vote in the primary, you might as well not vote at all. I find as I get older, I get more confused on who has the right answers. I think I'm genuinely independent.

Your favorite interview? The one that got the most attention, got my adrenaline going, was my interview with Bill Clinton in September 2006. I went in with the purest of intentions and asked a perfectly straightforward question: Why didn't you do more to put Al Qaeda out of business? And he went off.

It surprised you? I had three reactions -- utter astonishment; how do I handle this?; I've got a hell of a story here.

When you want TV, what do you watch? I love 24. I was at the White House today. At the northwest gate, I asked if any of the guards watch 24 -- [one] episode had an attack on the West Wing. They proceeded to tell me what was and wasn't accurate.

Do you watch The Daily Show With Jon Stewart?

Occasionally. It's a little past my bedtime. I've been on three or four times, a big fan of Jon Stewart.

What do you think of the show's politics? He's definitely left of center, a liberal. He strains to poke fun at [President] Obama; it's not as much fun as poking fun at [George W.] Bush.

What's one thing Obama has done right? (Long pause.) I'm not pausing because I can't think of anything. He's kept a lot of campaign promises. I think he gives people a sense of, if not optimism, at least of possibility.

One thing he's done wrong? He runs a real risk of overloading the circuits in Washington. Too much on the public's plate and Congress's plate -- save the financial system; reform healthcare; fix entitlements; wean the country off carbon-emitting energy sources. It's asking a lot.

What do you think John McCain would have done differently? He certainly wouldn't have signed this $400 billion budget with 8,000 earmarks.