Following his moderation of last week’s presidential debate, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was accused by many on the right of showing bias against President Trump, and his comments about the Trump family on his Sunday show followed the same lines.
Pushing back, Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes told Wallace he was “not a neutral moderator” during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” in a heated exchange about the president’s COVID diagnosis.
Wallace, Cortes face off over masks
“Let’s talk about reasonable risks because there was the debate on Tuesday night that I moderated,” Wallace was quoted by Breitbart as saying. “The rules from the Cleveland Clinic could not have been more clear. Everyone — everyone in the audience — was to wear a mask.”
“The president and the former vice president and I were the only ones exempt from that,” the host continued. We’ve got a picture up on the screen. After the First Family came in, they all took off their masks. So did the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.”
“Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?” Wallace demanded.
Cortes responded by pointing out that the attendees had undergone testing. “Those of us who went first were tested by Cleveland Clinic directly,” he said.
However, Wallace was unmoved and he interrupted Cortes, insisting that the pre-debate testing regime “didn’t matter.”
“Everybody in that room was tested, and the Cleveland Clinic’s regulation was, it didn’t matter, everybody except for the three of us on the stage was to wear a mask, and people from the Cleveland Clinic came over and offered the first family masks, thinking maybe they didn’t have them.”
“They were waved away, and the Commission on Presidential Debates has issued a statement saying, from now on, if you don’t wear a mask, you’re going to be escorted from the hall. So forget this question of being tested beforehand.”
Cortes attempted to interject, but Wallace wasn’t having it, exclaiming, “No! I’m going to finish my question. Everybody was told to wear a mask. Why did the first family and the chief of staff feel that the rules for everybody else didn’t apply to them?”
Cortes: “You were not a neutral moderator”
For Cortes, the discussion was taking on echoes of the presidential debate. “Chris, the way you’re starting to harangue me now actually reminds me of what you did to the president during that debate on Tuesday night,” he complained.
“You were not a neutral moderator then,” Cortes went on. “I don’t mind tough questions. I welcome reasonably tough questions. What I don’t think is OK is for you to become the effective opposition to the president.”