The Worst Debate Ever, Made Worse by the Moderator

The Worst Debate Ever, Made Worse by the Moderator
Debate moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace moderates the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 29, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images)
Roger L. Simon

It’s easy to sum up the first presidential debate of 2020.

Forget Candy Crowley. Chris Wallace was the worst moderator in recent memory. Clearly biased and argumentative, he was anything but the invisible presence he promised he was going to be.

Meanwhile, both candidates more or less stunk. Trump wasn't organized in his responses and interrupted more than he should, sometimes even when Biden seemed about to fumble the ball and make the kind of gaffe the president’s supporters were hoping he would.

Biden did a fair amount of interrupting himself, usually to call Trump the likes of “racist” and “clown.” How imaginative!

But, to be fair, this debate was two against one, with Trump versus Biden and moderator Wallace. Yes, Trump frequently acted like a buttinsky, but he really had no choice with the odds stacked against him.

Wallace kept letting Biden off the hook, notably on multimillion-dollar Hunter corruption issues in Ukraine, China, and now, Russia, that the former vice-president assured us were “debunked.” (When a politician uses that word, you know they’re lying. Anything can be “debunked” by someone, even—or especially—if it’s true.)

Wallace also confronted Trump with a weird question about “critical race theory,” without explaining what that might be to the television audience, a good swath of which are probably clueless, using it to imply the president was a racist.

(Trump didn’t help himself here with a kind of confused response.)

Most of Wallace's questions in general were puerile and predictable. And of course he didn't venture into the terra interdicta of the Russia probe or Biden’s relation to it, leaving it to Trump to bring it up—this although stunning new revelations about Hillary Clinton’s role surfaced on Sept. 29. If I knew about it, Wallace did.

And please, enough of the reactionary lie that white supremacists are equal to Antifa and Black Lives Matter in instigating the violence in our streets. Wallace promulgated that one too. At the same time, Biden showed his true colors, repeating the nonsense from FBI Director Christopher Wray that Antifa doesn’t really exist. Wray has since recanted it; Biden must have known that too.

None of this was surprising. Wallace has long disliked Trump and has made Fox News Sunday into a clone of the conventional liberal pap found on the other networks’ Sunday shows. It’s easy to see him as stalking horse for the network’s new ownership, the son of Rupert Murdoch, who doesn't share his father’s views.

Gone is Wallace's reputation as the great middle-of-the-road true journalist. He’s not one.

The commentators on Fox didn’t say much about this debacle afterward, one assumes, to protect their jobs or at least comity in the work place, but I know many of them were fed up with Wallace before this. Now…

Despite all this, I doubt this first debate moved the needle much. In Biden’s favor, he made it through without seeming overtly geriatric, pushing the senility question to the side for the moment.

Against Biden, however, was that he refused to answer the inevitable question about packing the Supreme Court. He also seemed squishy on questions that might separate him from his party’s significant left wing. He even bragged he was the Democratic Party now. Bernie and AOC might have something to say about that.

All of this, of course, plays into Trump’s hands.

So, all in all, no winners, but one big loser as moderator. But one reminder for disheartened Trump supporters who hoped to see their man wipe the floor with his opponent:

Everyone said Trump lost his first debate with Hillary Clinton. What happened next?

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning author, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, a columnist at The Epoch Times. Find him on Parler and Twitter @rogerlsimon. Buy (and enjoy) his books on Amazon.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, columnist for The Epoch Times. His latest book “American Refugees” will be published by Encounter 10/31. “Roger Simon is among the many refugees fleeing blue state neoliberalism, and he’s written the best account of our generation’s greatest migration.”—Tucker Carlson.