The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was basically a disaster. Trump was a constant source of interruptions and went on wild tangents about Biden’s family, which eventually prompted Biden to tell Trump to shut up (he also called him a clown). Trapped in the middle of all that was moderator Chris Wallace, who was widely panned for his inability to rein in Trump and attempts to pacify the president by promising him that he’s going to “love” the next topic. Even Wallace himself admitted he was “disappointed” by the whole proceeding.
However, thanks to the trainwreck from Biden and Trump’s first clash, the Presidential Debate Commission made the wise decision to mute the candidates’ mics whenever their opponent is talking, and it made a world of difference in the final debate. While there were still plenty of outlandish moments, the president was more subdued thanks to the inability to interrupt Biden, which led to a relatively smoother debate by comparison. Moderator Kristen Welker also received praise for her choice of questions and her aggressive attempts to keep Trump on topic that was made easier by the muted mics. Needless to say, that’s an option Wallace wish he had, and he wasn’t ashamed to admit to his Fox News colleagues that he was “jealous.”
Chris Wallace: "I'm jealous. I would've liked to have been able to moderate that debate" pic.twitter.com/DDNKZBVstk
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) October 23, 2020
In Wallace’s defense, he was in an impossible position with Trump. Had the first debate not gone terribly because of the president’s frantic behavior, the muted mics would have never been an option. And even then, there were still several moments in Thursday’s debate where Welker struggled to rein in Trump. At the end of the day, Chris Wallace shouldn’t feel too bad because, when you think about it, he had to be steamrolled so Kristen Welker could mute.