The first 2020 presidential election debate was one of the most anticipated presidential debates in history, but instead of current President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden, some argued that moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was the biggest loser on the stage.
Chris Wallace: "I'm going to take back the moderator's role."
Er, no, Chris. With respect, you never assumed that role.
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) September 30, 2020
Wallace admonished both candidates for interrupting and focused especially on Trump, reminding him at least twice of the fact that his campaign agreed to the debate rules and should abide by them.
Chris Wallace: "I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak without interruptions. I'm appealing to you sir to do that."
President Trump: "Well and [Joe Biden] too."
Wallace: "Well, frankly you've been doing more interrupting than he has." pic.twitter.com/Mb8erHwHLb
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) September 30, 2020
Newsweek writer Travis Akers tweeted, “Chris Wallace has completely lost control of this debate. Let this be a strong lesson to future moderators, the microphones must be cut off when the other person is speaking. This is ridiculous and embarrassing.”
Chris Wallace Took a Beating on Twitter
Chris Wallace…I don't mean to be rude but
You are really terrible at this.
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) September 30, 2020
Self-proclaimed Never Trumper Tom Nichols tweeted, “Once again, Trump is just taking extra time, and rolling right over Chris Wallace. Why are they bothering to have a moderator at all? #Debates2020.”
Others criticized Wallace for not “running a fair debate.” Andrew Feinberg, a contributor to The Independent, tweeted, “Chris Wallace is destroying any reputation he had by being passive and letting the president do whatever he wants.”
Others said that Wallace did not enforce the rules of the debate:
#ChrisWallace, this is a disgrace. A moderator enforces the rules. That’s the point of having a moderator.
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) September 30, 2020
“Chris Wallace is not running a fair debate. Trump doesn’t want a free and fair election and Wallace is helping him achieve that. He interrupts Biden and lets Trump talk over everyone,” Jill Wine-Banks, an MSNBC contributor and Watergate prosecutor tweeted.
— Dr. Jack Brown (@DrGJackBrown) September 30, 2020
Many others said that the debate suffered because of Wallace’s moderating.
Can somebody tell me why Chris Wallace just let Trump off the hook over condemning the white supremacists when he told the Proud Boys to stand by? #Debates2020
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) September 30, 2020
“Deray” tweeted, “Chris Wallace has officially failed tonight. And we are suffering. It’s like nobody realized that Trump is…Trump. What did you think he was going to do? #Debates2020.”
Many Trump Supporters Accused Wallace of ‘Protecting’ Biden
Who's debating, here?
Chris Wallace or Joe Biden?
— Students For Trump (@TrumpStudents) September 30, 2020
Some people accused Wallace of protecting Biden from Trump. One person called Wallace an “absolute disgrace”:
Because Chris Wallace is an absolute disgrace. Wallace is a registered Democrat and he is doing as much as he can to interfere with how the debate plays out. https://t.co/Ah2F4To38z
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 30, 2020
“Chris Wallace is getting paid BIG bucks to protect @JoeBiden…& it’s incredibly obvious,” a user named Aubrey Huff — a self-identified Trump supporter and “protector of toxic masculinity” — tweeted.
Someone with the handle Stonewall Jackson tweeted, “Chris Wallace is horrible. Trump’s having to defeat both Biden, and Chris. . Which he is.” Others accused Wallace of asking “gotcha” questions.
Now we know why the New York Times leaked their BS tax story.
So Chris Wallace can use it to smear President Trump.
— C3 (@C_3C_3) September 30, 2020
“Chris Wallace is now reading Biden’s energy plan back to him to remind Biden what’s in his plan. I have never, never seen anything like this from a moderator,” The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis tweeted.
“.@foxnews #ChrisWallace brings up @realDonaldTrump tax returns that were illegally acquired and illegally leaked. #ChrisWallace is an F’ing dirt bag,” tweeted Jonathan T. Gilliam, an author and talk radio host.
Some Said Wallace Faced an Impossible Task
Chris Wallace effectively pausing debate to plead with Trump to stop breaking the rules.
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) September 30, 2020
Some people argued that Wallace had an impossible job and blamed the format, while others blamed Trump. CNN White House Correspondent John Harwood tweeted, “You can’t blame Chris Wallace for this. impossible to control situation without the ability to cut Trump’s mic.”
Another person tweeted, “The president is acting incredibly boorish and unprofessional. Somebody needs to try to reign him in.”
I agree that he has lost control; but The President is acting incredibly boorishly and unprofessional. Somebody needs to try to reign him in. Regardless of what your political beliefs are, you have to agree he has zero manners.
— BeaconHillWine (@Beaconhillwine) September 30, 2020
“Mr. President, please stop,” Wallace told Trump several times during the debates at night, as well as, “Let him finish, sir,” as Trump interrupted Biden.
At one point, during a particularly ferocious verbal battle among all three, Wallace said, “I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak if there were less interruptions.” When Trump attempted to split the blame for interrupting between himself and Biden, Wallace said, “Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has.”
“This faux ‘debate’ system has always been a disaster. But with a lying bully and an old-style moderator, it breaks down completely. Chris Wallace is doing a terrible job. He cannot enforce the rules,” former Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg tweeted.