While all eyes will be on the candidates, there is also pressure on moderator Fox News’ Chris Wallace. In preparing for the debate, Wallace has stayed largely out of the public eye.
Wallace has been with Fox since 2003 after lengthy stints at NBC News and ABC News.
The broadcast veteran comes from a family with a history in the news industry. Here’s more on Wallace’s family and background:
1. His Father Was Legendary 60 Minutes Correspondent Mike Wallace
Wallace was born in Chicago, Illinois to Mike Wallace and Norma Kaphan in 1947. His father, Mike Wallace was known for his tough interviews and brazen style as a reporter.
He decided to pursue hard news as a career after the death of his oldest son, Peter in 1962.
Peter died after a fatal fall while hiking in Greece at the age of 19. Peter aspired to become a journalist while studying at Yale. Wallace was moved to continue his legacy in own career. In a later interview, Wallace explained that he wanted to “do something that would make Peter proud.”
Wallace spent much of his career as a correspondent and host on 60 Minutes where his relentless interviewing style became a staple of the news magazine program.
After he passed away at the age of 93 in 2012, Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation said Wallace “has been a force within the television industry throughout its existence.”
In the statement Moonves said:
All of us at CBS News and particularly at ’60 Minutes’ owe so much to Mike. Without him and his iconic style, there probably wouldn’t be a ’60 Minutes.’ There simply hasn’t been another broadcast journalist with that much talent. It almost didn’t matter what stories he was covering, you just wanted to hear what he would ask next.
2. He Called His Father His ‘Best Friend’
Wallace was just a baby when his parents divorced in 1948. Although he did not have a close connection with his father in his childhood years, they forged a relationship when he was a teenager, after the death of his older brother.
“My dad was everything you saw on television: fascinating and funny, challenging and exasperating. He was the best reporter I have ever known,” said Wallace. “And while work often came first for him, over the last 20 years, he worked hard to make connections with his family. He became my best friend. And at the end, he was surrounded by children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. I already miss him terribly.”
His father spoke with pride of his son, telling The Christian Science Monitor:
You can imagine the satisfaction a father feels when he sees his son on the lawn of the White House night after night, covering such an important beat and doing it so effectively.
3. His Stepfather Was President of CBS News
Wallace’s mother, “Kappy” Leonard was married to Bill Leonard, who was president of CBS News from 1979 to 1982, but had been been a correspondent since 1945. Making Leonard Chris Wallace‘s stepfather.
Following his mother’s passing in May 2016, Wallace explained her role in the broadcast industry.
“My mom’s life was intertwined with TV news,” said Chris Wallace in a statement. “She was married to two giants of the industry. And she was the den mother for generations of CBS News journalists. She was a savvy producer and editor. And a great many of her insights ended up on the air. In her spare time, she was a wonderful mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. 3 generations of Wallaces and Leonard’s miss her deeply.”
4. He Became Interested in a Broadcasting Career Because of His Stepfather
When Wallace was honored at the National Press Foundation dinner in 2012, he credited the three “giants of broadcasting” in his life. He explained his stepfather was “the single most important person in my life.”
Since his parents divorced when he was a baby, Wallace learned about the TV news business from Leonard.
Wallace said he would do reports with his stepfather while driving along the Hudson River.
“Usually it was things like, as the car would pass a certain milestone like 25,000 miles, we would do a special broadcast and announce that the car had hit that mark, and then do remotes with the Japanese [manufacturer] in Tokyo…and interviews with the car dealer here,” Wallace recounted to The Christian Science Monitor. “Yeah, we would do sort of little imaginary special broadcasts. He would interview me, or I would interview him.”
5. His Wife Is a Best-Selling Author
Wallace has been married to his wife Lorraine since 1997. Although they do not have any children together, Wallace has four children from a previous marriage to Elizabeth Farrell. Lorraine has two children from her previous marriage to comedian Dick Smothers.
Lorraine is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written three cookbooks: Mr. Sunday’s Soups, Mr. Sunday’s Saturday Night Chicken, and Mr. and Mrs. Sunday’s Suppers.
Lorraine authored her first book after her husband boasted about her cooking on-air. Wallace had accepted a job at Fox News Sunday in 2003 which required a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call. Wallace would return around 11:30 a.m., around the same time his teenage son was rolling out of bed. In an effort to create meals that worked with her husband, and children’s differing schedules, Lorraine would make soup.
“It’s easy to make soup, the ingredients are inexpensive, and it’s a nice solution to bring your table together,” Lorraine told Spruce TV.