The moderator and both candidates who participated in Tuesday’s presidential debate have since faced criticism for the fact that it devolved into a series of interruptions rather than providing an opportunity to discuss important issues.
For his part, Fox News Channel anchor Chris Wallace said that he felt the first matchup between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden was a “terrible missed opportunity,” as reported by The New York Times.
“Off the tracks”
His comments came during a phone interview with the newspaper on Wednesday, a short time after he served as the debate’s moderator.
“I’m just sad with the way last night turned out,” he said, adding that he “never dreamed” the debate would “go off the tracks” in the manner that it did.
Of course, he attempted to place the lion’s share of blame for that chaos on the actions of the incumbent.
“I’ve read some of the reviews,” Wallace said. “I know people think, well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough. 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.”
Of course, Biden — and even Wallace himself — can be seen interrupting Trump on multiple occasions. As pundits across the political spectrum have opined, it was a mess, but not everyone agrees it was the president’s fault.
“As invisible as possible”
The former vice president was also criticized for a series of retorts, including calling the president a “clown” and telling him to “shut up.”
Wallace, meanwhile, was clearly drawn into the conflict taking place on stage and, in the opinion of many viewers, appeared to side with Biden against Trump. His remarks to the Times only bolster that perception.
Prior to the debate, however, Wallace made it clear that he did not want to be a central focus of the analysis that would follow.
“One of these two people is going to be the next president of the United States and my job is to be as invisible as possible,” he said in a debate preview earlier this week. “I’m trying to get them to engage to focus on the key issues, to give people at home a sense of why I want to vote for one vs. the other, but 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?'”
Given the aftermath of Tuesday’s debacle, which prompted the Commission on Presidental Debates to affirm that it would be instituting changes in the format going forward, it appears Wallace did not succeed in achieving his previous metric of success.