Leading up to the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, Fox News host and moderator Chris Wallace was praised by colleagues like Brit Hume as the “best debate moderator ever" but that quickly changed over the course of the night as it became clear President Trump was taking on two opponents.
As the debate progressed, Wallace appeared to team up with Biden, shutting the president down, failing to fact check the former vice president over some of the most obvious and easily debunked lies, and moving the subject along when it became inconvenient for Joe.
Let’s take a look at some of Wallace’s worst moments from Tuesday’s debate.
1. Ben Shapiro quipped that Wallace turned into a debater as the night progressed—an assessment Trump agreed with, on and off stage.
For example, here's how Wallace framed a question about Trump’s healthcare plan:
“You, in the course of these four years, have never come up with a comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare, and just this last Thursday, you signed a largely symbolic executive order to protect people with preexisting conditions five days before this debate, so my question is what is the Trump healthcare plan?” Wallace asked.
“Well, first of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him. But that’s okay," Trump fired back. "Let me just tell you something, there’s nothing symbolic. I’m cutting drug prices, I’m going with favored nations, which no president has the courage to do cause you’re going against big pharma. Drug prices will be coming down 80 or 90 percent."
2. Wallace did not follow up on Biden’s refusal to say whether he'd pack the Supreme Court. Typically, Wallace would never let a guest on his “Fox News Sunday” program get away with an answer like Biden’s, but yet here he was at the first debate just accepting Biden’s nonresponse.
"So my question to you is, you have refused in the past to talk about it, are you willing to tell the American tonight whether or not you will support either ending the filibuster or packing the court?" Wallace asked. The follow exchange occurred (all transcript portions via Rev.com):
Vice President Joe Biden: (17:55)
Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You’re voting now. Vote and let your Senators know strongly how you feel.
After a back and forth between Biden and Trump on the issue, the president asks why he won’t just answer, then says it’s because Biden wants to put radical left justices on the bench, to which Biden replies, “Will you shut up, man?”
Wallace quickly comes to Biden’s defense and says the discussion on court packing has ended.
3. Over a question on race, Wallace repeated the “very fine people” lie about Charlottesville and never corrected Biden’s use of it during an answer.
Chris Wallace: (25:43)
No, less than you have. Let’s please continue on. The issue of rice. Vice-President Biden, you say that President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville three years ago, when he talked about very fine people on both sides, was what directly led you to launch this run for president. […]
Joe Biden … It is true, the reason I got in the race is when those people… Close your eyes, remember what those people look like coming out of the fields, carrying torches, their veins bulging, just spewing anti-Semitic bile and accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan. A young woman got killed and they asked the president what he thought. He said, “There were very fine people on both sides.” No president’s ever said anything like that.
Wallace just repeated the THOROUGHLY DEBUNKED "very fine people" hoax from Charlottsville in his question. Awful.— Larry O'Connor (@LarryOConnor) September 30, 2020
4. Wallace wondered what was wrong with the radical Critical Race Theory, referring to it instead as “racial sensitivity training.”
Chris Wallace: (32:21)
This month, your administration directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training that addresses white privilege or critical race theory. Why did you decide to do that, to end racial sensitivity training?
Just FYI, critical race theory is NOT “racial-sensitivity training,” contra Chris Wallace’s ill-informed framing.— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) September 30, 2020
Here’s a taste of what went on in the trainings Trump ended, per Chris Rufo’s reporting in The Post. https://t.co/EiQhKvOrOs pic.twitter.com/qevQjqMXRK
Teaching federal employees (on taxpayer $) that ALL white people are racist by nature & America is rotten to its core is not acceptable!— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) September 30, 2020
One of the most ridiculous moments of tonight was Chris Wallace calling “Critical Race Theory” - “Race Sensitivity Training”
CRT is a no go!
This is Critical Race Theory in a single image. pic.twitter.com/8ZhljbXlvp— James Lindsay, manspreading emoji (@ConceptualJames) September 6, 2020
5. Chris Wallace helped Biden along during the section on climate change, reading his plan back to him.
"All right, Vice president Biden. I’d like you to respond to the president’s climate change record but I also want to ask you about a concern," Wallace began. "You propose $2 trillion in green jobs. You talk about new limits, not abolishing, but new limits on fracking. Ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035 and zero none admission of greenhouse gases by 2050. The president says a lot of these things would tank the economy and cost millions of jobs."
Chris Wallace is now reading Biden's energy plan back to him to remind Biden what's in his plan.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 30, 2020
I have never, never seen anything like this from a moderator.
6. Biden praised the Green New Deal at one point and then seconds later said he doesn't support it, but rather than getting into specifics, Wallace, per usual, had to move along.
Does Joe Biden know what he's talking about?— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 30, 2020
Joe Biden: "The Green New Deal will pay for itself as we move forward..."
Chris Wallace: "Do you support the Green New Deal?"
Joe Biden: "No, I don't support the Green New Deal." pic.twitter.com/ampOmwPGTo
Biden doesn’t support the Green New Deal.— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) September 30, 2020
Oh, Wallace got that out of him?
No, Trump did.
Oh, well, did Wallace clarify what’s parts of Green New Deal Biden is against?
No, needed to move on ...
7. Wallace also shut down President Trump for bringing up Hunter Biden and the recent Senate report showing he "received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow."
President Donald J. Trump: (48:17)
But why was he given tens of millions of dollars?
Vice President Joe Biden: (48:19)
He wasn’t given tens of millions of dollars. [crosstalk 00:48:23] It was all discredited.
Chris Wallace: (48:27)
We’ve already been through this. I think the American people would rather hear about more substantial subjects. Well, as the moderator, sir, I’m going to make a judgment call here.
President Donald J. Trump: (48:35)
I know but when somebody gets three and a half million dollars from the Mayor of Moscow.
Vice President Joe Biden: (48:39)
That is not true. That report is totally discredited.
I feel like I'm a broken record here, but Chris Wallace just interrupted Trump again to rescue Joe Biden from having to explain why his son Hunter got $3.5 million from the Moscow mayor's wife.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 30, 2020
"I want to talk about climate change," Wallace said.
8. As for the countless interruptions, the Trump campaign did the tally:
Chris Wallace only interrupted Joe Biden 15 times.— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) September 30, 2020
Wallace interrupted President Trump 76 times! #Debates2020
Finally, there was widespread agreement that Chris Wallace was terrible, even by some of his own colleagues past and present.
Just an inexcusable effort tonight from Chris Wallace. And I say that as someone who is generally a fan of his.— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) September 30, 2020
Good line from Trump—he tells Chris Wallace he’s debating him, not Joe.— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) September 30, 2020
Chris Wallace doesn’t have the facts at his command about the Ukraine payments made to Biden’s son that Trump brought up. Big mistake by Mr. Wallace.— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) September 30, 2020
Everybody hates Chris Wallace, and no that’s not proof that he’s good. It’s proof that he sucks.— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) September 30, 2020
That was not good— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) September 30, 2020