Chris Wallace Jumps the Shark

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace says his show is "clearly a player now" in the Sunday chat-fests. The ratings, however, say, "not so much."

Just because you say so, doesn’t make it true. In today’s “Media Mix” column by USA Today’s Peter Johnson, — likely inspired by Fox’s Tony Snow moving over to the podium at the White House briefing room — Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace says that his show is “clearly a player now” in the realm of Sunday chat fests.

It could be that Wallace is referring to his hope that Snow, his good buddy and former Fox host, will provide him and Fox News Sunday with more access than other reporters. And maybe he (Snow) will.

But “clearly a player now” doesn’t quite describe FNS’s current place in the firmament of Sunday talk shows, as Johnson illustrates with a little number crunching.

“This year,” Johnson reports, “FNS has averaged 1.4 million viewers, and an additional 725,000 tune into a rebroadcast on Fox News Channel, compared with 4 million for Meet the Press, 3 million for Face the Nation and 2.6 million for This Week.”

In other words, more like a bench warmer than a “player.” According to Nielson ratings for Sunday, April 23, Meet The Press scored a total of 4 million total viewers, 41 percent more than CBS’s Face the Nation which had 2.8 million, 46 percent more than ABC’s This Week, which scored 2.7 million, and a full 207 percent more than Fox News Sunday, which brought up the rear with 1.3 million viewers.

(And while Wallace says that the show is the “new kid on the block,” in truth, said kid is beginning to show is age — celebrating its 10th anniversary this week, which is positively arthritic in the world of television.)

Wallace better hope Snow gives him a more access to inside dope and to guests from the White House inner circle than McClellan & Co. did. Because it’s going to take at least that to jumpstart this “also-ran” of a show.

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.