Moderator of first Presidential debate blames Donald Trump for chaos
Fox News' Chris Wallace, who moderated the first debate between incumbent US President Donald Trump and White House hopeful Joe Biden, has solely blamed the former for the chaos on stage in Ohio. The debate on September 29 (local time), was panned widely, with observers noting cross-talk prevented them from hearing anyone clearly. At one point, Biden told Trump, "Will you shut up, man?"
In his first interview with NYT after the debate, Wallace said that just as he sat at Cleveland Hall, during the 90-minute-long showdown, he thought to himself, "I'm a pro. I've never been through anything like this." The debate was never supposed to derail like this, Wallace said, calling it a "terrible missed opportunity." He realized very late that Trump might not follow rules.
In the interaction, Wallace fell short of blaming Trump, only saying that he "didn't help." The moderator revealed "desperation" drove him to halt the debate temporarily. Later, while speaking to his colleague Bill Hemmer, Wallace was more candid and said Trump ruined everything. "I had baked this beautiful, delicious cake, and then frankly the President put his foot in it," Wallace said.
"That was frustrating. It was frustrating for me because I tried hard to prepare for a serious debate, much more frustrating and more importantly for the American people because they didn't get the debate they wanted that they deserved," Wallace added.
When asked if he gave a second watch to the debate, Wallace replied, "Oh, God no. Oh, God no." "Look, it took me four years to re-watch the Trump-Clinton debate from 2016, which I very much enjoyed, and it still took me four years to look. This is going to take a while before I watch this one again," he added, according to CNN.
In the NYT interaction, Wallace admitted he was aware of the humongous responsibility placed on him. "I wanted to be as invisible as possible, and to enable them to talk — to rise to the point at which you begin to interject more and more," he told. On suggestion about giving moderators the power to mute microphones, Wallace said Trump would have interrupted, nevertheless.
"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 also had a suggestion for Steve Scully of C-SPAN who will moderate the second debate on October 15 and Kristen Welker of NBC News, the moderator of the final debate, on October 22. "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," Wallace said.
After the melee at the first debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) — a nonpartisan body that has organized Presidential debates since 1988 — said that it will announce new rules to help "maintain order" during the remaining two debates. However, the debates are now shrouded in uncertainty, considering Trump tested positive for coronavirus today. The Presidential polls are due for November 3.