Chris Wallace Says He's "Horrified" by Jim Acosta's Press Conference Behavior

Paul Morigi/Getty Images; MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
Chris Wallace (left), Jim Acosta

"It's not our job to get in fights with presidents," the Fox News anchor said Tuesday night of the CNN reporter. "It's not our job to one-up the president."

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was not impressed with CNN reporter Jim Acosta's behavior during a presidential press conference Tuesday in India.

Responding to a question from Acosta, President Donald Trump criticized his network and said, "Didn't they apologize for the fact that they said certain things that weren't true? Tell me, what was their apology yesterday?"

Acosta replied, "Mr. President, I think our record on delivering the truth is a lot better than yours sometimes, if you don’t mind me saying." (Trump's response: "Your record is so bad you ought to be ashamed of yourself.")

Wallace, speaking on Tuesday night at a Common Ground Committee event held at Columbia University, said he was "horrified" by Acosta's behavior. He said that White House correspondents of the past, himself included, would never have behaved the way he did.

"It's not our job to get in fights with presidents," he said. "It's not our job to one-up the president."

New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman, who appeared with Wallace at the event, said she agreed generally that reporters should not joust with the president.

Wallace, who hosts Fox News Sunday, has questioned Acosta's conduct before. In November 2018, Wallace said that Acosta "embarrassed himself" during a presidential press conference. After the White House pulled Acosta's press pass, Wallace said that Acosta "makes it awfully hard to have journalistic solidarity."

On Tuesday, a CNN spokesperson criticized Wallace on Twitter — from his personal account — for deriding Acosta.

"Chris Wallace literally works for state TV," Matt Dornic wrote. "I don't think @Acosta or any real journalist ought to be taking advice from him. Chris, if only you spent as much time and effort sharing these morsels of wisdom with your own colleagues..."

In a December 2017 email to then-Treasury Department spokesperson Tony Sayegh, Wallace called CNN anchor Jake Tapper "fake news" for asking Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin about Robert Mueller at the top of an interview.

During the Tuesday night event, Wallace faced numerous questions — both from the moderator and several audience members — about the divide between the news and opinion divisions at Fox News.

"There really isn't a clash," he said. "They do their thing, I do my thing, and I have the full backing of my executives at Fox News. ... All I can say is: I do what I do, opinion does what it does. I think people understand the difference. We at Fox have always had a firewall between the news side and the opinion side. 

Added Wallace, "I don't think many people would mistake me for the primetime opinion people."