Chris Wallace came under fire on Tuesday for his performance as the moderator of the first presidential debate, with critics saying he failed to rein in Donald Trump from interrupting Joe Biden a number of times during the evening.
The first meeting between the two candidates turned contentious as both candidates talked over each other a number of times, though Trump appeared to cut in more frequently. This led to several interruptions from the Fox News journalist calling on both to respect their opponent’s time, including some contentious exchanges with the Republican.
“You know, if you want to switch seats, we can do that,” Wallace said during one late segment in which the president continued to speak after he had been told that his time ended.
When Trump repeatedly attacked Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, Wallace also called on the president to stick to the questions being asked.
Wallace did press Trump to directly answer some of the questions, including the topic of his federal tax returns. After a report this week claimed that he paid no federal income tax for 10 of the 15 years leading up to the 2016 election and that he paid only $750 each in 2016 and 2017, he claimed that the report was false. When the topic was raised on Tuesday, he did not directly answer and Wallace pressed him to give an answer of how much he had paid in those years.
Chris Wallace: "Mr. President, I am asking you a question. Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?"
Trump: "Millions of dollars."
Recent reporting, citing the president's tax information, indicates Trump paid $750 each of those years. pic.twitter.com/nhBBvqmAYi
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) September 30, 2020
The performance drew the ire of many, who said the Fox News journalist did a poor job of keeping control at the event and allowing both candidates to speak. Some called for him to cut off Trump’s microphone when he interrupted his opponent.
“CHRIS WALLACE DO BETTER,” tweeted MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. “STOP THE DEBATE AND SPEAK TO THE AUDIO CONTROLLER on LIVE TV AND LEARN HOW TO CUT TRUMPS MIC. YOU ARE FAILING THIS IMPORTANT MOMENT…”
Chris Wallace has failed.
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) September 30, 2020
Chris Wallace is literally unable to get Trump to stop talking.
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) September 30, 2020
It cannot be emphasized enough how poorly Chris Wallace is moderating this debate.
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) September 30, 2020
While much of the criticism over the interruptions came from supporters of the Democratic candidate, many supporters of Trump also took issue with some of the moderator’s questioning. That included what many saw as critical comments of the Trump administration’s decision to end racial sensitivity training that discussed critical race theory. The moderator pressed Trump on the issue in what many saw as slanted questioning.
Chris Wallace did everything possible to help Biden tonight.
Relayed the “very fine people” hoax.
Transformed “defund the police” to “community policing”
Lied about critical race theory.
And is now debating Trump one on one regarding climate change. #Debate2020
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) September 30, 2020
Trump is totally right on Critical Race Theory. It is racist. And it was infecting all our institutions.
Biden’s response was to call Trump racist. Right then and there on stage.
You get it yet?
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) September 30, 2020
Listen, I know Chris Wallace is a Democrat, but loaded questions much? Trump going right back at him on critical race theory declaring that critical race theory is racist and teaches people to hate America.
— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) September 30, 2020
Others took issue with Wallace’s framing of questions on protests calling for an end to racial injustice and calls to defund police, an idea that the former vice president emphasized he did not support.
As The Inquisitr reported, some criticism came in even before the debate, with Trump saying he did not expect Wallace to be fair in his moderating.