Chris Wallace of Fox News was a failure as a moderator on last night’s “debate” by President Trump and Joe Biden, Jr.

He let that program devolve into total chaos in which we viewers couldn’t understand much about candidates’ positions because they talked right over one another on open mics. Even more aggravating was that both candidates would ignore the core of a question and just nibble around the edges. Wallace occasionally reminded them they hadn’t answered, but never demanded one or said he would not move on until the person answered satisfactorily.

And then he let the whole thing go to hell and become two children in a sandbox arguing, “did”, “did not,” “did,” and ending with “would you shut up, man?”  These are the best we can put up to lead the country?

Yes, Trump was the worst offender and the one that started the talk-overs right from the  first time Biden had the floor for his 2 minutes.

I don’t know why they call them debates since they don’t fit any of the guidelines of the National Forensic Association. I did debating all through high school and never encountered such a messy, unregulated performance. I’ve questioned candidates on TV and never run into such arrogance and trampling of rules of decency.

Frankly, I wish Wallace had had the good sense to say “gentlemen, this has become a joke and I refuse to take part in it. I’m finished here. We’ll be turning off the lights. This disgusting affair is over.” Then walked out of the near-empty auditorium.

We wouldn’t have missed anything because the candidates weren’t giving anything of substance anyway.

One sad thing is that many of today’s TV journalists have become actors and performers and sold their souls to their networks, cable companies or general managers. The show must go on!

No it mustn’t! It needs to be stopped when it becomes a loser and a bad joke.

At a minimum, the debate commission needs to install a “kill microphone” button at a moderator’s desk. When one candidate is using his/her speaker time, the other’s mic is disabled.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

10 replies on “What He Should Have Done”

  1. The problem all of se sophisticates have is that we think the debates are meant for us, and they are not. The chance of somebody like you or me changing our minds are too miniscule to be measured.The folks who can’t make up their minds by now are by definition not very thoughtful. The spectacle was aimed at them, and the next one will be as well. The antidote to the vulger displays by the candidates is a healthy dose of humor, and Wallace takes himself too seriously for that.

  2. I agree this was chaos. The upside is it gave the American People the opportunity to see Donnie as he really is. When he walked on the stage, it was obvious he was angry. Biden did a great job of handling the situation as best he could. He remained calm, civil and was undeterred by the unwarranted, childish attacks.

  3. Yes! I 100% agree! The audience would have been better served by re-billing this as a sprts event with dueling pistols at 20 paces! Wallace had no mechanism to control, what everybody in advance knew was going to be Trump baiting what he felt was a weakling candidate. Biden was smart by looking into camera and speaking to the American people…..but he was still rattled!

    Wallace could have asked better questions, followed up better and dead mic’ed em when they got unrully!

    Nobody was served well and Wallace was a hell of a disappointment!

  4. I think Mr. Wallace did the best he could last night, under the circumstances. The primary problem, it seems, is that the Commission on Presidential Debates did not anticipate the President’s well known penchant for not playing by the rules. They should have anticipated the constant interrupting. I agree with your good suggestion of the use of a ‘kill microphone’ button which I heard on today’s news is being considered by the Commission for the next debates.

    I disagree that Mr. Wallace should have refused to continue when his questions were not answered. He’s a moderator, not a dictator. People should be smart enough to know when questions are not answered.

    I also disagree that Mr. Wallace should have walked out when the debate got out of control. I, and I think other people, too, want to have the debate go to the end for whatever bits of information and observations can be gleaned. That ‘kill microphone’ button should help a lot for the next debates!

  5. Your thoughts are on par with what I was thinking as the train wreck unfolded. Trump knows exactly what he is doing on stage, helped along by Chris Christie, they know they can bulldoze Biden. I thought Wallace had bigger balls than that. It’s sad that the whole world gets a chance to see this.

    1. According to a New York Times article both candidates declined the closed mic option for the first debate. For the second debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates is considering a a closed or kill mic option; however, these options will not work because it will not prevent the non speaker from interrupting and being overheard on the open speakers mic.
      Solution: Place both candidates in isolation booths.

  6. What on earth were the organizers thinking to attempt such a format with Trump? Of course he ran roughshod over everything and turned the whole thing into an obnoxious farce. Is anyone really surprised? But it probably won’t hurt him because it’s what his people have come to expect and even enjoy. Biden, on the other hand, took himself down to Trump’s level and may have hurt himself among folks who find it very undignified to tell a sitting American president, even this one, to shut up. That line, and Biden’s “clown” remark, will be repeated until election day and some will surely hold them against Biden. After four years of Trump, we need a return to civility, not a roll in the gutter. Obama would never have conducted himself like that.

  7. Chris Wallace was NOT a failure at all. In fact, given what he faced, he deserves a lot of credit for trying to hold the mess together. From the opening question, Mr. Trump pushed his role as a 5 year old, spoiled, bully-brat with diaper rash, stunning even Wallace, who is familiar with the President’s antics. Wallace didn’t really didn’t have a chance at keeping
    the “debate” civil because the President’s only goal was to embarrass and demean the Vice President. I was surprised Biden remained as calm as he did for as long as he did. Wallace’s efforts at trying to get the confrontation back on track and get some questions answered was impressive. As for shutting down the debate, silly idea. First, Trumpland and its social media army would have claimed Wallace did it to protect Biden. And second, as bad as it was, this “debate” served a purpose, showing voters what Mr. Trump
    is really all about. And NO to controlled mics or any other elementary school rules. If either of the candidates for the MOST POWERFUL OFFICE in the World cannot control themselves in what should be civil situations, we all need to see that.

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