On Tuesday night, Fox News host Chris Wallace was widely panned for his performance moderating the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Now, Wallace is speaking out to express his disappointment for how the debate went down, admitting that he could not control the two candidates.
“I’m just sad with the way last night turned out,” Wallace told the New York Times. “I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.”
This came after many reviews called out Wallace for failing to maintain order on the debate stage.
“I’ve read some of the reviews, I know people think, Well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough,” Wallace said. “I guess I didn’t realize — and there was no way you could, hindsight being 20/20 — that this was going to be the president’s strategy, not just for the beginning of the debate but the entire debate.”
During the debate, both Trump and Biden interrupted one another constantly. At one point, Wallace even asked Trump to stop interrupting, saying “the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions.”
Afterward, Wallace said that he felt a sense of “desperation” as he pleaded with the candidates.
“If I didn’t try to seize control of the debate — which I don’t know that I ever really did — then it was going to just go completely off the tracks,” Wallace said.
While Wallace appeared to try and put much of the blame on Trump, adding that the president’s behavior “certainly didn’t help” the situation, he did not put all the blame on the president.
“To quote the president, ‘It is what it is,'” he said.
On Wednesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates released a statement saying that the debate “made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” The commission added that it will be making changes to the format, with one idea that is being tossed around being that moderators will be able to shut off the candidates’ microphones if they become unruly while their opponent is speaking, according to the Associated Press.
Wallace, however, is opposed to this idea.
“As a practical matter, even if the president’s microphone had been shut, he still could have continued to interrupt, and it might well have been picked up on Biden’s microphone, and it still would have disrupted the proceedings in the hall,” he said.
Wallace went on to point out that the American people might not like seeing a moderator silencing candidates.
He also gave advice to C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, who is set to moderate the next presidential debate on Oct. 15, saying, “If either man goes down this road, I hope you’ll be quicker to realize what’s going on than I was. I didn’t have that advance warning.”
“Generally speaking, I did as well as I could, so I don’t have any second thoughts there,” Wallace said. “I’m just disappointed with the results. For me, but much more importantly, I’m disappointed for the country, because it could have been a much more useful evening than it turned out to be.”
This piece was written by James Samson on September 30, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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