Fox News host Chris Wallace prefaced a recent fact-check segment concerning President Donald Trump's culpability in the recently-concluded Russia investigation by acknowledging that his commentary was likely to upset a good number of the network's loyal viewership, Newsweek reports.
It was in a segment for America's Newsroom, where Wallace largely agreed with the network's general consensus on the special counsel's report clearing Trump on charges of collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. He did, however, challenge a consistently repeated and central talking point of Fox's narrative around the investigation. Wallace denied, despite Fox's many assertions of the statement by a variety of hosts and commentators, that the investigation itself had begun with a FISA warrant related to Carter Page and the now-infamous Steele dossier.
"I know this is going to drive some of our viewers nuts," Wallace began. "The Trump investigation did not start with the FISA warrant and Carter Page and even the dossier. It started in June and July of 2016 when George Papadopoulos had spoken to a Russian agent and spoke to an Australian diplomat and said he had heard they had information on...dirt on Hillary Clinton."
Wallace seemed frustrated with what he described as factual inconsistencies between the facts of the matter and the ongoing talking points articulated by a variety of his respected and high-profile colleagues on Fox News.Host Bill Hemmer, who had just played a clip of conservative talk show icon Rush Limbaugh expressing similar sentiments to the ones being challenged by Wallace, pushed back. Hemmer tried to make the case that the facts surrounding the genesis of the investigation remained unclear, but Wallace was not so easily put off.
"I don't think there's any doubt that they started investigating," Wallace replied. "Everybody agrees they started investigating in the summer of 2016."
The somewhat contentious back-and-forth comes as more public scrutiny than ever has fallen on the conclusions of the investigation. Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the election has been submitted to Attorney General William Barr, but Barr has so far released only an abbreviated summary of its findings.
Demands that the report be made public in its entirety continue to grow, with Congress and the public at large voicing their desires to review the document in question. The report, which is nearly 400 pages in length, will likely be redacted by the Trump Administration prior to its release. For now, barring Congressional or judicial intervention, the fate of the report remains in Barr's hands.