Fox Host Chris Wallace has been under heavy fire since Tuesday due to his handling of the first 2020 presidential debate, and the pressure is showing no signs of letting up.
Wallace has been targeted by dozens of pundits and politicians for his performance, including President Trump himself and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who called Wallace “disgraceful” after he appeared to run cover for Joe Biden during the debate.
Wallace takes the heat
Since the closing arguments of Tuesday’s debate, the consensus among most right-leaning viewers was that Wallace appeared to favor Joe Biden throughout the entire spectacle.
Gaetz remarked during a radio interview on Wednesday that “[W]hen it comes to Hunter Biden … Chris Wallace was disgraceful as the moderator in this debate,” referring to President Trump’s attempts to press Joe Biden for answers about Hunter’s questionable business dealings.
“[Wallace] took a side. He repeatedly, I think, tried to save Joe Biden when Joe Biden got into trouble,” Gaetz continued, pointing out Wallace’s intervention protected Biden — again — from being forced to answer concerns about Biden’s family taking advantage of his office while he was vice president.
President Trump made similar comments to Gaetz’s on Wednesday, claiming that “The press doesn’t want to talk about it,” referring to Hunter Biden’s profiting from his father’s office, “and Chris Wallace is like, ‘We don’t want to discuss that.’ Oh, it’s so sad.”
Though much of the frustration with Wallace’s performance remained centered on the anchor himself, President Trump attacked the Fox News network for choosing Wallace as the moderator in the first place.
“I’m so disappointed in Fox,” Trump said. “I’m not just running against Joe Biden, I’m running against the corrupt far-left media socialists and communists in the Democrat party.”
Wallace, for his part, appears to be somewhat defeated after Tuesday’s display. Wallace told New York Times reporter Michael Grynbaum after the fact that he’s “sad with the way last night turned out.”
The longtime anchor said that the debate was a “terrible missed opportunity,” and lamented that he “never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.”
Wallace said that he was “reluctant” to continually interrupt exchanges between the two candidates, but felt that it was his duty to do so. Wallace said prior to the debate on Monday that his goal in hosting the debate was to be as “invisible as possible.”
“I’m trying to get them to engage…to focus on the key issues…to give people at home a sense of why they want to vote for one versus the other,” he said at the time. “If I’ve done my job right, at the end of the night, people will say, ‘That was a great debate, who was the moderator?’”