In a move that stunned Beltway television circles, the no-nonsense veteran anchor — son of legendary CBS correspondent Mike Wallace — announced he was leaving Fox News after 18 years for a prized gig at CNN’s new streaming-video outlet CNN+ in December.
At the time, the former Fox News Sunday anchor specifically cited Zucker as one of the reasons he joined the network.
“I am honored and delighted to join Jeff Zucker and his great team,” Wallace gushed in a statement just two hours after he quit Fox on December 12.
Zucker fawned over Wallace, too.
“It is not often that a news organization gets the opportunity to bring someone of Chris Wallace’s caliber on board,” the axed CNN boss said.
Wallace, 74, was slated to host a weekday interview program starting next year on CNN+, Zucker’s much-hyped new digital streaming platform.
In wake of the decision from WarnerMedia suits to oust Jeff Zucker, Wallace is said to be “second guessing his decision” even though he is believed to be earning $8 to $10 million per year.
“Chris is the type of person who makes it known if he doesn’t like something,” said a TV industry insider.
“He went over there for Zucker and now Zucker is gone. Wallace feels that he has been stiffed. He’s got no staff, no Executive Producer and the guy he gave up a prized gig for has just walked out the door.”
Zucker is said to have allayed Wallace’s concerns about two heavyweight figures at CNN: Jake Tapper, the host of The Lead, and Sam Feist, the cable giant’s Washington bureau chief and senior vice president.
“It’s no secret in DC that Wallace hates Jake Tapper and despises Sam Feist,” the source added.
“Zucker spun his magic to allay Chris’ concern about the pair, promising that his status as a ‘premiere journalist’ would not be compromised while working out of the DC bureau.”
Zucker, a 56-year-old father of four, resigned this week after admitting a romantic relationship with a co-worker, his No. 2 Allison Gollust.