Politico

Chris Wallace faces criticism for letting candidates run wild in first debate


Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was criticized Tuesday night for letting the first debate of the 2020 presidential cycle quickly go off the rails.

Much of the debate was plagued with crosstalk as President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden and Wallace, the moderator, all talked over one another. And Wallace could not get Trump to stop interrupting, despite scolding him multiple times and reminding him that his campaign had agreed to the ground rules.

CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy wrote that Wallace was responsible for “the circus that aired on national TV.”

“He lost control of the debate early, and failed to ever regain order,” Darcy said. “It appeared as if Wallace were pleading with Trump to respect the forum like a parent would plead an out-of-control child to behave.”

It wasn’t the only reference to Wallace’s behaving as if he were trying to wrangle toddlers.

“Chris Wallace’s debate performance tonight is a great reminder that kindergarten teachers are underpaid,” Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” tweeted.

Trump also took issue with the moderator’s performance, retweeting a post that said comedian Joe Rogan would do a better job moderating the debate. There were also several calls for actor Samuel L. Jackson to moderate the next debate.


Some conservative leaders said they thought the Fox anchor, a registered Democrat, unfairly favored Biden by repeatedly urging Trump not to interrupt or go over his allotted speaking time. Wallace’s colleague Brian Kilmeade, a host of “Fox and Friends,” tweeted: “Why is @JoeBiden allowed to interrupt? @realDonaldTrump is not.”

Still, others wondered whether anyone could have reined in Trump.

“Without the ability to mute a microphone, what could another moderator have done?” journalist Yashar Ali tweeted.

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