Oct 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Chris Wallace: Trump "bears the primary responsibility" for debate

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace in an interview with his network Thursday said President Trump "bears the primary responsibility for what happened" at Tuesday night's debate, which at times turned incomprehensible.

Why it matters: Much of the national discussion after the hectic event has centered on whether Wallace failed to control the candidates, particularly Trump, whose interruptions set the tone for the night.

  • Wallace, speaking with colleague Bill Hemmer, cited a Fox News analysis that shows Trump interrupted Biden 71 times and Wallace 74 times throughout the night — a total of 145 times, "which is way more than one a minute," Wallace added.
  • "I guess I thought originally the president was going to engage in a debate with Biden and let Biden answer so they could go back and forth. That was a misapprehension," Wallace said.

Where it stands: The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that it plans to implement rule changes for the remaining debates to include "additional structure."

  • Wallace said, as a moderator, he would not want to be able to mute the president's microphone, an idea some have floated: "I don't want to be in the position of saying I'm gonna interpose myself between the president and the public and say you can't hear what he has to say now. I think that's a pretty tough spot to put any moderator in."

Worth noting: Wallace is a veteran of the business and has moderated a presidential debate with Trump before. Wallace was lauded for his ability to tame Trump during the third debate of the 2016 election with Hillary Clinton.

The Fox anchor shared advice for C-SPAN's Steve Scully, who will moderate a town-hall-style discussion for the next debate on Oct. 15:

  • "I would use the fact that you're talking to real people and it's not just two politicians and a journalist as an opportunity to try to keep some order."
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