Correcting Koppel: A Talk with Chris Wallace

"FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace
FOX Fan Central caught up with "FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace and producer Marty Ryan to find out why they took exception to Ted Koppel's troop tribute last week. Read the interview, then tune in Sunday morning on your local FOX station and 5 pm ET on FNC for their special look at what the troops have accomplished.

Watch Wallace's announcement on FNS What was your reaction when watching the “Nightline” special tribute last week?

Chris Wallace: I saw the announcement and then I saw Ted’s explanations as the week went on about what he was trying to accomplish. But as I watched the show, I grew increasingly disturbed and offended by what he did. I take him at his word that he did not intend to get involved in a ratings stunt or make a political statement, but I think it ultimately worked out that way. What feeling do you hope to leave with the American people this Sunday?

Wallace: We certainly are not even pretending that this is going to be a comprehensive account of all the U.S. has done in Iraq in the last year. I just felt it was a disservice to list the names of all the remarkable men and women who have fought for our country without putting it in the context of what they fought for. What I want for people to take away from this is that these folks have not died in vain. A lot of bad things have happened in Iraq, and it’s still going to be a bumpy road for a long time. But life for the average Iraqi despite all the problems — and we’re not ignoring them — is immeasurably better today than it was under Saddam Hussein.

FNS Producer Marty Ryan: When going through this stuff, we found a lot of interesting nuggets. For example the court system now works in Iraq. If you are a defendant, you go through a court and have an attorney at every level of the process just like in an American judicial system. It’s not perfect yet, but it's a working court system and that’s something they really haven’t had before in a fair way. So we’re finding out a lot of things that, as Chris noted, are making — for all the difficulty and all the things we see on TV and read in the papers — the life of the average Iraqi better. This is due to the sacrifice not only of the military people but of other public officials, and it is a side of the story that isn’t told very much. Some people may accuse you of making a political statement. What do you say to them?

As we introduce the piece, we will certainly note the fact that this is not a statement about the war. There are still plenty of questions about why we went to war and how we conducted the occupation. What we are saying is really very simple. If you are going to pay tribute to the fallen fighting men and women in Iraq, it isn’t enough to just simply list their pictures, their names, and their ages. You’ve got to put it in the context of what they went halfway around the world to do. Let’s remember their lives, and not just their deaths. There were journalists across the country who watched "Nightline" and didn't take note of what seemed to be a glaring omission to you.

There are a lot of unexamined assumptions in reporting. When you basically go back to a clean slate and look at everything, in an all-things-being-equal sort of way, it does provide you with an interesting vantage point. I think one of the great benefits of FOX News is that it provides an atmosphere where you can sit there and examine everybody and make everybody prove their point. And when you see something that you think is wrong, there isn't anybody here that is going to stop you from looking into it. And that’s a great thing.

Tune in to "What We've Accomplished" on FNS airing Sunday morning on your local FOX station and 5 pm ET on FNC!