Chris Wallace was honest enough to admit that Tuesday night’s debate was, in so many words, a fiasco, but he absolved himself of any responsibility by claiming, “I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.” Really?
The New York Times published an interview with Wallace yesterday:
“I’m just sad with the way last night turned out.”
Mr. Wallace conceded that he had been slow to recognize that the president was not going to cease flouting the debate’s rules.
“I’ve read some of the reviews. I know people think, well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough,” Mr. Wallace said, his voice betraying some hoarseness from the previous night’s proceedings. “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.”
Maybe there was no way to predict just how obnoxious, rude and unpresidential Trump’s behavior was or that he would be quite so hopped up but I’ll bet there are a lot of people who would have guessed that Cheater Trump would have cheated and tried to out-Kavanaugh Brett Kavanaugh. All we needed was for Trump to yell, “I like beer!”
I think we also have to recognize that Wallace’s Fox News roots were showing, which The Times doesn’t seem to have mentioned. For example, Wallace worked in plenty of Fox News talking points, such as, “The economy is, I think it's fair to say, recovering faster than expected from the shutdown ... in the second quarter. The unemployment rate fell to 8.4% last month. The Federal Reserve says the hit to growth, which is going to be there, is not going to be nearly as big as they had expected,” in his question about the economic recovery to Trump.”
A few minutes later, Wallace asked about Biden’s economic plan in Fox News terms: “[It] focuses a lot on big government, big taxes, big spending. … You propose more than $4 trillion over a decade in new taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 a year, on individuals making more than $400,000 a year and on corporations. President Trump says that that kind of an increase in taxes is going to hurt the economy as it's just coming out of a recession.”
Then there was the time at 13:54, in the second part of Rev.com’s transcript, Wallace gave in to Trump’s demand for time to respond to Biden, despite having said that Trump’s allotted time was up. But earlier, when Biden asked to respond when his time was up, Wallace wouldn’t let him (5:54).
Frankly, I think Wallace was afraid of seeming too antagonistic to the guy his network is mostly devoted to promoting, adoring, and, obviously, re-electing. His comments to the Times about Trump’s disruptive behavior were diplomatic to a fault:
Asked directly if Mr. Trump had derailed the debate, Mr. Wallace replied, “Well, he certainly didn’t help.”
Care to elaborate? “No,” Mr. Wallace said. “To quote the president, ‘It is what it is.’”
Yet Wallace knows Trump’s behavior was shockingly unpresidential and unacceptable. Wallace told the Times that after the debate, he had been met at the airport by Fox CEO Suzanne Scott and Lachlan Murdoch. Murdoch had handed Wallace a glass of champagne but he “didn’t feel much like celebrating.” Wallace also said, “I’m disappointed for the country, because it could have been a much more useful evening than it turned out to be.”
We can assume Wallace does not think that Joe BIden's behavior was a problem because there was no apparent attempt at bothsidesism.
Wallace made a good point about cutting off candidates’ microphones if they refuse to stop talking.
“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 in the hall,” he said.
That was another tacit acknowledgment that Trump’s behavior was the problem. Wallace followed up by saying, “People have to remember, and too many people forget, both of these candidates have the support of tens of millions of Americans.” To my mind, that’s another way of saying he didn’t want to tick off Fox viewers.
All that said, I sympathize with Wallace who clearly tried to do the best a Fox News moderator probably could do. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. And yeah, even I didn't think it would be that bad.
(Wallace image via screen grab)
I actually hope – for them – that this is an invented story. Like so many lies (over 23,000 by now) since his inauguration.
Nice poem, John McKee.
Now, we have to wonder if there will be any more debates or how Trump will use Hope Hicks’ infection to benefit himself.
Will he ever realize what horrible being Trump is??
Had a clear mission, i.e. this
That he’d bring to the nation
But Trump was just taking the piss
(Well, I have to amuse myself somehow)
I would suggest to Biden that in the next two from the beginning to inform everyone that he intends to ignore him and his temper tantums and say, I’m only going to paid attention to you, the voters, and try my best to explain to you my plan on several issues that so many are dealng with.
He was juggling trying to show mainstream viewers that even as a Fox ‘News’ type, he could be even-handed, while at the same time, doing enough to at least not alienate the Fox-fed Trumpists. There was also an element of maintaining his self-created persona of the urbane elder statesman.
If Wallace was a politician, he would be Mitt Romney.