News World News

Debate moderator admits he’s ‘disappointed’ with how it turned out

The moderator of yesterday’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has admitted he’s “sad” about the unedifying spectacle that unfolded.Chris Wallace, a veteran political journalist from Fox News, has copped criticism from all sides over his handling of the debate, which spiralled into chaos as the candidates repeatedly interrupted and talked over each…

The moderator of yesterday’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has admitted he’s “sad” about the unedifying spectacle that unfolded.

Chris Wallace, a veteran political journalist from Fox News, has copped criticism from all sides over his handling of the debate, which spiralled into chaos as the candidates repeatedly interrupted and talked over each other.

Mr Trump in particular was a repeat offender. With no ability to silence the President’s microphone, Wallace ended up bickering with him frequently.

“Mr President, can you let him finish, sir?” he pleaded at one point.

The debate’s transcript is littered with moments like that.

“Let him speak.”

“Please let him speak, Mr President.”

“Let me ask my question.”

“Mr President, I’m the moderator of the debate and I would like you to let me ask my question.”

“Mr President. Mr President. President Trump. Please.”

This from a moderator who had said beforehand that he hoped to be “as invisible as possible”.

“I guess I’m debating you, not him. That’s OK, I’m not surprised,” Mr Trump quipped in one exchange.

After the debate he took potshots at Wallace on Twitter, telling his followers it had been a “two on one” contest.

RELATED: Donald Trump fires up at debate moderator

RELATED: Trump goes on Twitter spree after debate

While the President claimed Wallace had intervened too much, the other side was panning him for supposedly doing too little.

Political strategist Ana Navarro-Cardenas said the moderator had “totally lost control” of the debate and allowed Mr Trump “to behave like a schoolyard bully”.

“The fact that Trump was a human battering ram with contempt for the rules of conduct likely came as no surprise to anyone, except perhaps Wallace,” wrote The Los Angeles Times.

“He appeared to have no Plan B in dealing with Trump.”

“Chris Wallace failed to meet the moment,” CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy said.

“To be sure, he had a difficult task placed before him. And it would have perhaps been helpful had he had the ability to cut mics. But Wallace does ultimately bear responsibility for the circus that aired on national TV.

“He lost control of the debate early and failed to every regain order.”

Wallace responded to all of this criticism today in a phone interview with The New York Times, conceding the debate had been “a terrible missed opportunity”.

“I’m just sad with the way last night turned out,” he said.

“I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.”

At first, Wallace said, he failed to realise that Mr Trump was going to keep interrupting for the entire debate.

“I thought this was great. This is a debate!” he said he thought when the candidates started engaging directly with each other early on.

“I’ve read some of the reviews. I know people think, well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough,” he said.

“I guess I didn’t realise – 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.

“I’m a pro. I’ve never been through anything like this.”

RELATED: US shellshocked after wild presidential debate

The Times asked Wallace whether Mr Trump had derailed the debate

“Well, he certainly didn’t help,” he replied dryly.

Asked to elaborate on that, he declined.

“No. To quote the President, ‘It is what it is.’”

Wallace also reacted to the criticism from Mr Trump, justifying his decision to intervene so frequently.

“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,” he said.

“You’re reluctant – as somebody who has said from the very beginning that 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.

“First say, ‘Please don’t interrupt.’ Then, ‘Please obey the rules.’ And third, ‘This isn’t serving the country well.’ Those are all tough steps at real time, at that moment, on that stage.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates, the independent body responsible for running these events, announced today that it would consider changing its rules for the next two encounters between Mr Trump and Mr Biden.

It also praised Wallace for his “professionalism and skill”.

One option being examined is giving moderators the power to mute the candidates’ microphones. Wallace told The Times he was opposed to that 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,” Wallace said.

He stressed that stopping a presidential candidate on the debate stage from speaking was a bigger deal than some in the media might think.

“People have to remember, and too many people forget, both of these candidates have the support of tens of millions of Americans.”

RELATED: Trump’s mic could be cut in the next debate

Wrapping up the interview, Wallace said he had no second thoughts, but was nevertheless “disappointed” for the Americans who tuned in to the debate.

“I’ve been involved in a certain amount of soul-searching,” he said.

“Generally speaking, I did as well as I could, so I don’t have any second thoughts there.

“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.”

Leave a Comment

X

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.