Five things you may not know about debate moderator Chris Wallace
Chris Wallace was the first anchor from Fox News to moderate a presidential debate when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clashed for the final time Wednesday at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. He may be new to viewers who don’t watch his program “Fox News Sunday,” but the son of the legendary “60 Minutes” correspondent has been a TV news fixture for five decades.
His first TV job was at the station that hosted the 1960 presidential debate. Wallace started his reporting career at WBBM in 1973, the CBS-owned television station in Chicago where John Kennedy and Richard Nixon participated in the very first televised face-off of White House contenders in. The building on McClurg Court that housed WBBM’s studios, where Nixon sweated and Wallace first toiled, was demolished in 2009.
He was once a coanchor on NBC’s “Today.” When Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley were teamed on NBC’s morning program in 1982, Wallace was featured as its Washington anchor. The arrangement lasted for nine months, as Wallace was moved off to cover the White House and eventually became moderator of “Meet the Press.”
His first girlfriend was Walter Cronkite’s daughter. Wallace was a 16-year-old gofer working at CBS News during the network’s political convention coverage, which was fraught as the network panicked over Cronkite losing in the ratings to NBC’s team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. “During the Republican convention in San Francisco, I had met and courted Nancy Cronkite, Walter’s daughter, who was my first girlfriend,” he told TV Guide in 2013. “When he got pulled from the convention, everybody else was worried about Walter. I was worried about whether this was going to mess up my relationship with Nancy.”
His father once poached a celebrity interview from him. Wallace recounted how in 1996, he booked comedian Chris Rock for a coveted sit-down on ABC’s “20/20.” Rock backed out and later turned up on “60 Minutes,” where he talked to Mike Wallace. “My old man had stolen the interview and he knew he stole it from me,” he told the audience at his father’s memorial service in 2012.
He’s a registered Democrat. In 2014, Wallace explained his party registration to the Hollywood Reporter: “Where I live, in Washington, D.C., the only elections that count are the Democratic primaries. But I’ve voted for Democrats and Republicans for president.”
10:50 a.m.: This article, written before Wednesday night, was updated to reflect that the debate had happened.
This story was originally published at 7:20 a.m. Oct. 19
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