New York(CNN Business) Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, one of the few high-profile news personalities who retained a reputation of integrity as Fox leaned hard into right-wing and conspiratorial programming, announced Sunday that he is departing the network and joining CNN+ to host a weekday show.
Wallace made the stunning announcement of his departure at the end of "Fox News Sunday," the flagship weekly political program that he has moderated since 2003.
"It is the last time, and I say this with real sadness, we will meet like this," Wallace said. He described his time at Fox as a "great ride" and said he was "ready for a new adventure."
That adventure will take place at CNN, where Wallace will become an anchor for CNN+, a streaming service launching in early 2022. According to CNN's press release, Wallace will host a weekday show featuring interviews with newsmakers "across politics, business, sports and culture."
"I am thrilled to join CNN+," Wallace said in a statement. "After decades in broadcast and cable news, I am excited to explore the world of streaming. I look forward to the new freedom and flexibility streaming affords in interviewing major figures across the news landscape — and finding new ways to tell stories."
CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said Wallace's appointment "speaks volumes about our commitment to journalism and CNN+, and we are thrilled to have Chris on the ground floor of helping us build the next generation of CNN and news."
Wallace, 74, had multiple options when his four-year Fox contract was approaching its end point earlier this year. Wallace ultimately decided he didn't want to renew with Fox, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Numerous Fox staffers praised Wallace on Sunday and said they were disappointed by the news.
"Sad to see Chris go -- he's had an amazing run at 'Fox News Sunday,'" chief political anchor Bret Baier wrote on Twitter.
Fox praised Wallace and said that it will rotate hosts on "Fox News Sunday" until a permanent moderator is named.
"We are extremely proud of our journalism and the stellar team that Chris Wallace was a part of for 18 years," the network said in a brief statement. "The legacy of 'Fox News Sunday' will continue with our star journalists, many of whom will rotate in the position until a permanent host is named."
Wallace is known for his tough, but fair, questioning of both Democratic and Republican politicians. His reputation for grilling members of both parties made him well-respected in journalistic circles, but often irked the Fox audience which showed immense loyalty to former President Donald Trump. That was especially true when Wallace called out Trump directly, including when he said that the former president "engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on the free press in our history."
In recent years, Fox News, which always tilted toward the right, has transformed itself into a hyper-partisan, right-wing talk network that regularly pushes conspiracy theories on a wide variety of topics. Even many of the network's so-called "straight news" anchors have abandoned any pretense of impartiality.
The network's top host, Tucker Carlson, has drawn extraordinary criticism for producing a special report pushing the false notion that the January 6 attack on the Capitol was a "false flag" orchestrated by the federal government. Carlson has also trafficked in anti-vaccine rhetoric and pushed the racist "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory on his show.
Wallace, who often found himself rebutting some of the falsehoods pushed by his own network, reportedly objected to Carlson's conspiratorial content. NPR reported that he had voiced objection to network brass about the program, which also led to the resignation of two longtime Fox News commentators.
One of those commentators, Jonah Goldberg, reacted to the Wallace news with a tweet that said "Wow."
The other, Stephen Hayes, wrote that Wallace had an incredible run and "served as a great example of how to do news -- and do it well -- during tumultuous and often disorienting times."