Chris Wallace: Debate moderator 'not a participant'

In his first and only interview before the third and final presidential debate of 2016 on Wednesday night, Fox News's Chris Wallace says he will intervene as moderator if needed, "but would prefer not to."

ADVERTISEMENT

"An interview, it’s you and the candidate. And you’re the person holding them to account," explained Wallace to Fox's Bret Baier on "Fox News Sunday."

"This is a debate and, you know, they’re both going to be on the stage. If I think there’s a need for me to intervene, I will. But I would prefer not to."

"Basically, you’re there as a timekeeper," Wallace said to Baier, who was filling in as "Fox News Sunday" host for him this week. "But you’re not a participant. You’re there just to make sure that they engage in the most interesting and fairest way possible.

"And I take it very seriously. It’s not a TV show that we’re doing."

NBC's Lester Holt and ABC's Martha Raddatz faced some criticism for interacting with the candidates — particularly Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE — too often in the first and second debates, respectively.

Wallace, who's the son of the late 21-time Emmy-winning journalist Mike Wallace, also reflected on what his father would think of him moderating the debate, the first time a Fox News journalist has been chosen to do so.

“I think of my dad. I think how proud he would be," said Wallace.

"I also think that if he could, he’d try to steal it from me. But once he learned he couldn’t, he’d say 'That’s my boy.' "

The 90-minute debate will start at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday night from Las Vegas.