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Trump ‘Bears Responsibility’ For Debate Unraveling, Chris Wallace Says

Topline

The moderator of Tuesday’s presidential debate, Fox News’ anchor Chris Wallace, said Thursday that President Trump “bears responsibility” for the debate erupting into chaos, one day after he seemed to only tacitly rebuke the president for his debate performance during an interview with the New York Times.

Key Facts

During a broadcast Thursday, Wallace reflected on the debate, saying it became clearer as the night went on that Trump was “determined to butt in and throw Joe Biden off.”

Trump “bears responsibility for what happened,” Wallace said, resting the blame solely on the president for the program unraveling, adding he believed Trump would have been “well-advised to pull back and let Biden talk more.”

Wallace cited a Fox News’ analysis that found President Trump interrupted Joe Biden’s answers or Wallace’s questions 145 times. 

The comments are a pivot from an interview Wallace gave with the New York Times on Wednesday, when he somewhat avoided blaming the president for turning the debate into what he called “a terrible missed opportunity.”

Asked by the Times directly whether he thought Trump had “derailed” the debate, Wallace said, “Well, he certainly didn’t help,” but refused to elaborate.  

Chief Critic

Trump accused Wallace of taking Biden’s side during the debate, and posted multiple tweets characterizing the debate as being two (Wallace and Biden) versus one (Trump.) 

Key Background

Trump frequently talked over and interrupted Wallace and Biden during the debate, angering both. A visibly irked Biden told Trump to “shut up” and “shush” as the president frequently butt in. Eventually, the debate slipped into chaos, with both candidates talking over each other. However, it was the loud and boisterous Trump who set the tone and did most of the interrupting. Wallace tried, at times, to maintain control but was criticized for not doing more. During one moment, Wallace paused the debate to remind the two candidates of the rules, and accused Trump of “doing more interrupting” than Biden.

Crucial Quote

In the interview with the Times, Wallace acknowledged that he was initially “reluctant” to assume control. “I guess I didn’t realize — 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,” Wallace said. 

What To Watch For 

The debate was received so negatively the Commission on Presidential Debates said Wednesday it will change the format of the remaining debates, though it has not announced the changes. However, Trump said Thursday he does not want the format to change, because he “won” the first debate. 

Further Reading

Presidential Debate Commission To Craft ‘Additional Tools’ For Moderators To ‘Maintain Order’ (Forbes)

Source: Forbes – Business

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