According to Slate, the first presidential debate of 2020 was raucous, with Donald Trump shamelessly interrupting Democratic nominee Joe Biden or moderator Chris Wallace at least 128 times. In comparison, Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times during the first presidential debate in 2016. And the most jaw-dropping moment was when the president refused to denounce the Proud Boys hate group. Instead, Trump told them to “stand back and stand by.”
Of course, a backlash ensued, and Donald Trump tried to backpedal his remarks, but it’s too late now. The world heard what he said as he stood at the podium. And during all of the interruptions, Chris Wallace failed to maintain any semblance of order while a rambling madman stood on the stage.
The Fox News anchor responded, following quite a bit of criticism.
“I’m just sad with the way last night turned out,” Wallace told the New York Times. Wallace called it “a terrible missed opportunity,” and said, “I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.”
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“I’ve read some of the reviews, I know people think, Well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough,” Wallace said. “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.”
Recalling his thoughts as he sat on stage, with tens of millions of Americans watching live, Wallace said: “I’m a pro. I’ve never been through anything like this.”
Wallace said he grew more alarmed as the president didn’t back off. “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,” he said.
The paper asked Wallace what he was feeling when he called the debate to a temporary halt — instructing each candidate that “the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions” — Wallace said, “The answer to that question is easy: Desperation.”
“You’re reluctant — as somebody who has said from the very beginning that I wanted to be as invisible as possible, and to enable them to talk — to rise to the point at which you begin to interject more and more,” Wallace continued. “First to say, ‘Please don’t interrupt,’ then ‘Please obey the rules,’ and third, ‘This isn’t serving the country well.’ Those are all tough steps at real-time, at that moment, on that stage.”
“Generally speaking, I did as well as I could, so I don’t have any second thoughts there,” Wallace concluded. “I’m just disappointed with the results. For me, but much more importantly, I’m disappointed for the country, because it could have been a much more useful evening than it turned out to be.”
Wallace is usually very good at moderating and interviewing politicians, but somehow, things went off the rails on Tuesday night. And we’ve never had a president that acts like a narcissistic rage-machine before.
Featured image via screen capture