"I've been listening to these inaugural addresses since 1961 — John F. Kennedy, 'ask not.' I thought this was the best inaugural address I ever heard."
Days after hailing President Joe Biden’s inaugural address, calling it "part sermon, part pep-talk," FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace spoke with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson, expanding on his praise of the new President, and assessing his first hours in office.
"First of all, you have to view it in the context that just 14 days before Biden delivered that address on the inaugural platform, on that very same spot, you had a mob of insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol and tried to prevent our elected leaders from fulfilling their Constitutional duties," Wallace said. "So when Joe Biden, in that context, said that our Democracy is fragile, our Democracy has prevailed, I thought it had a real emotional resonance to it."
Beyond that emotional resonance, Wallace also praised the address for striking just the right tone.
"It felt like Joe talking over the backyard fence to his neighbor, saying ‘look, we’ve got to turn down the temperature, we’ve got to start listening to ourselves, American politics can no longer be a blood sport,’ and I thought that was very effective."
While Biden’s address, one that highlighted unity as "the path forward," drew praise from many on both sides of the aisle, his first actions as President have some on the Right wondering if that unity is possible.
Over the first three days of his administration, Biden signed some 30 executive orders, many of which addressed coronavirus, and many more which reversed Trump-era orders, Biden rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and World Health Organization, while canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, the 1776 Commission, and construction of the southern border wall.
Michaelson asked Wallace to evaluate President Biden’s first days in office.
"You know, some people are saying ‘oh my gosh, he talked about unity and then he’s pushing his agenda,’ I don’t know what they thought he was going to do," Wallace responded. "Obviously, he made campaign promises, obviously he ran on different issues than Donald Trump did. When he called for unity, I don’t think he was saying there can be no dissent, he was saying democracy is going to work, but it needs to work in a civil way we have lost."
In a wide-ranging interview, Wallace also discussed the likelihood of improved bipartisanship over the coming years, the Trump legacy, the influence of his father, the late Mike Wallace, and the changing face of media, especially as it has evolved over the four years of the Trump administration.
"Look, I think that Donald Trump is primarily responsible for what happened over the last four years, when he talked about ‘fake news,’ when he talked about the media ‘is the enemy of the American people,’ that was outrageous and very damaging to our democracy," Wallace said.
"Having said that," Wallace continued, "I think that [Trump’s] excesses allowed, or provoked, some of my colleagues in the media to do excesses of their own. Some of the coverage of President Trump, some of the questioning of President Trump, as somebody who covered Ronald Reagan for six years and his White House, I was shocked by, I thought it was disrespectful, I thought it was just not reporting, it was advocacy, and I think that’s a huge mistake for reporters."
Wallace, the Peabody Award-winning journalist who has hosted Fox News Sunday since 2003, concluded his analysis by urging reporters to "stay in our lane" and "cover the news," noting that while there is a place for opinion, it should not be from straight news reporters or the Washington Press Corps.
"I hope we go somewhat back to the old standards that I learned when I was covering Ronald Reagan, but the problem is, there is profit in opinion, profit on the right, profit on the left, and it’s going to be hard to put that genie back in the bottle."
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