Chris Wallace commented on the cancelation of CNN+ for the first time on Sunday during a Common Ground Committee live stream.
“Wow that was quick,” Wallace responded after moderator Jacqueline Adams brought up CNN+. “It’s an interesting thing, and I’ve been a victim of all of this in the last week. I mean my gosh, Jackie, it just happened on Thursday. Give me a couple days.”
Wallace signed with CNN for $9 million a year, which the network owes him no matter what. So I guess you could call him the “victim,” as he put it.
Later in the interview, Wallace retracted that he got a raw deal, speaking confidently about his future.
“I will say this, I am going to be fine. I’m in good shape, whether it’s at CNN or someplace else,” Wallace goes on. “Frankly, what I’m mostly concerned about right now, and very, is my team and the hundreds of other people. Because, you know, there were 300 people, I think, that had jobs at CNN+. Some of them had left CNN to go to streaming, some of them had left other places, moved across the country.”
Wallace is correct there. He will be fine. CNN has three options with Wallace, in no particular order:
— Move Wallace’s interview show, Who’s Talking, to the CNN linear network, daily or weekly.
— Put Wallace at 9 pm in primetime, the reported most likely scenario.
— Shift Who’s Talking to HBO Max, Discovery’s prioritized streaming service.
In any case, Wallace is better off than he was on CNN+. Even on HBO Max, Wallace would inherit a much larger audience base than he had on CNN+. Last week, HBO Max hit 76.8 million subscribers worldwide.
That’s why it’s interesting to hear him say “CNN or someplace else.” It’s hard to envision another company having the real estate to compete with the above options at CNN. And, again, CNN owes Wallace his salary, and thus will not bench him.
Depending on contract language, Wallace can likely turn down replacement roles not already agreed upon during negotiations, so “or someplace else” sounds like a leverage play from Wallace: give me the role I want or I won’t work at all.
Ultimately, Chris Wallace will have a prominent role at CNN moving forward. He is in a better position than he was just one week ago.