President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are both taking some heat and getting some accolades for their performances during their rowdy first debate, but critics are also coming down hard on Fox News’ Chris Wallace for his handling—or failure to handle—the 90-minute event.
Wallace is being slammed not only for losing control as Trump repeatedly talked over Biden, with the Democrat often firing right back, but there are also hints of bias. Writing at The Federalist, assistant editor Kylee Zempel observed, “Debating one person is difficult, especially if he’s had oodles of alone time in his basement to prepare while you’ve been a little busy leading the country. Debating that person and a partisan media hack at the same time is just BS.”
A new Rasmussen survey reveals that 40 percent of likely voters “believe most debate moderators will try to help Joe Biden.”
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“Only eight percent (8%) think they will try to assist President Trump instead,” Rasmussen reported. “Thirty-seven percent (37%) expect most moderators to be unbiased, while 16% are not sure.”
And the San Jose Mercury-News is reporting, “Tuesday night’s chaotic presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has been described as, among other things, a ‘hot mess’ and a ‘travesty,’ and some of the blame is landing on moderator Chris Wallace.”
The debate was anything but presidential, likened on social media to a “barroom brawl” and a “schoolyard fight.”
While pundits and partisans have been spending most of the day after declaring their favored candidate a winner, there is a lingering impression that nobody really won, and everybody lost. Trump and Biden both scored points, and both lost some.
Wallace got some cover from the New York Times, which recalled, “Mr. Wallace — the veteran Fox News anchor who at 72 was the youngest of the three men onstage — succeeded in keeping Mr. Trump more or less in check during his first go-round as moderator four years ago, when pundits declared him a clear winner of the night.”
In defending Wallace’s performance Tuesday evening, the Times noted that the moderator had his hands full with the president.
“Mr. Trump’s onstage intensity and logorrhea have proved a formidable challenge for some of the nation’s leading interviewers,” the newspaper said. “And with the president ignoring the traditional parameters of debate decorum, Mr. Wallace was left with few good options to keep Mr. Trump from chattering without pause.”
It didn’t help Biden when he called Trump a “clown” and demanded “Will you shut up, man.” It didn’t help Trump when he continually talked over his challenger.
There are indications the debate rules will change for their second encounter. That likely include microphone kill switches for both candidates’ microphones.
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