Chris Wallace says he’s ‘sad’ debate went ‘off the tracks’

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, who moderated Tuesday night’s chaotic presidential debate, told The New York Times on Wednesday that he was “sad” with the way the “night turned out.” 

President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden clashed during the first of three debates slated before the Nov. 3 election. The majority of the time, both candidates and Wallace himself endured repeated interruptions, and both Biden and Trump lobbed personal attacks at one another. 

During his first interview since the chaotic television event, Wallace said he had not predicted that Trump would repeatedly defy the debate guidelines of two minutes of uninterrupted statements from each candidate. 

“I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did,” Wallace told the Times. 

“I’ve read some of the reviews, I know people think, Well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough,” he continued. “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.”

The Fox News anchor added, “I’m a pro. I’ve never been through anything like this.”

According to the Times, when Trump first addressed Biden directly early on in the night, Wallace said, “I thought this was great — this is a debate!”

However, Trump’s repeated interruptions quickly drew concern from Wallace. 

“If I didn’t try to seize control of the debate — which I don’t know that I ever really did — then it was going to just go completely off the tracks,” Wallace said. 

During Tuesday’s debate, Wallace was forced to talk over the candidates multiple times, telling Trump at one point, “I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions.” 

At another point, Wallace again addressed the president directly, saying, “I’m the moderator of this debate and I’d like you to let me ask my questions.” 

“I guess I’m debating you, not him,” Trump responded. “I’m not surprised.”

In the hours following the debate, journalists and television pundits alike took to social media and the airwaves to express their opinion about the messy event. 

CNN’s Jake Tapper unloaded on the president’s rule-breaking performance.

“That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” Tapper said. “That was the worst debate I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace and primarily it was because of President Trump, who spent the entire time interrupting, not adhering to the rules he agreed to.”

“President Trump acted as the abuser tonight, and Chris Wallace was among the abused,” said MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced in a statement on Wednesday that it would be considering potential changes to the debate format “to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” 

CBS’s Norah O’Donnell reported Wednesday afternoon that the CPD plans on giving future moderators the option to cut candidates’ microphones during the debates.

Tags 2020 Debates 2020 election CBS Chris Wallace Commission On Presidential Debates Donald Trump Fox News Jake Tapper Joe Biden New York Times Norah O'Donnell

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