President Donald Trump squared off against Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday evening for what became a contentious first presidential debate.
Although plenty of blame has been cast about in the days that followed, many Trump supporters made it clear that they were not impressed by the performance of the debate’s moderator, Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace.
“I’m not surprised”
The president directly accused Wallace of showing a bias in Biden’s favor early on in the debate, as reported by The Hill.
At one point, Wallace told Trump that he was “the moderator of this debate” and asked to be allowed to continue his line of questioning.
“I guess I’m debating you, not him,” the president shot back. “I’m not surprised.”
A short time later, Trump followed up with a tweet declaring that Wallace “had a tough night” and described the debate as two-on-one. He concluded that the situation “was not surprising, but fun.”
Others in the president’s inner circle similarly castigated the Fox News host for his perceived prejudice. In an interview with MSNBC, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro claimed that Wallace functioned “essentially as Joe Biden’s cut man” and helped frame the debate against Trump.
“And he STILL won”
“I think that moment for me underscored just how poor Chris Wallace did as a debate moderator,” he said.
Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Points USA, echoed those remarks, tweeting that the moderator “interrupted Donald Trump 76 times” compared to just 15 times he cut Biden off in the middle of a statement. Conservative radio host Wayne Allyn Root accused Wallace of being “corrupt” and acting on Biden’s behalf.
For his part, Wallace has since confirmed that he believes Trump “bears the primary responsibility for what happened” on the debate stage.
Others, including some of Wallace’s colleagues, felt he performed admirably under adverse conditions. During an appearance on Hannity the night after the debates, Fox News Channel personality Geraldo Rivera defended Wallace, saying that the “guy signed up to moderate a debate and he ended up trying to referee a knife fight.”
While the jury is still out regarding which candidate, if either, came out on top, viewers across the political spectrum are hoping the next debate proves to be more productive.