It’s the day after a wild night and the nation has a hangover from the toxicity that Donald Trump spewed out and onto the airwaves of the world. Moderator Chris Wallace has taken a lot of heat for last night’s debacle — or maybe we should coin a new word “donbacle” because this happens all the time with Trump. In all events, Wallace spoke to the New York Times about the fiasco:
“I’m just sad with the way last night turned out.”
Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” anchor and moderator of Tuesday’s melee of a debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., was on the phone Wednesday from his home in Annapolis, Md., reflecting on — his words — “a terrible missed opportunity.”
“I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did,” he said. […]
“I’ve read some of the reviews, I know people think, Well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough,” Mr. Wallace said, his voice betraying some hoarseness from the previous night’s proceedings. “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 onstage, with tens of millions of Americans watching live, Mr. Wallace said: “I’m a pro. I’ve never been through anything like this.”
With all due respect to Chris Wallace, he knows Donald Trump. He’s been covering him a number of years. The biggest criticism Wallace is taking today is that he should have cut the mic.
“As a practical matter, even if the president’s microphone had been shut, he still could have continued to interrupt, and it might well have been picked up on Biden’s microphone, and it still would have disrupted the proceedings in the hall,” he said.
And he noted that cutting off the audio feed of a presidential candidate is a more consequential act than some pundits give it credit for. “People have to remember, and too many people forget, both of these candidates have the support of tens of millions of Americans,” he said.
Wallace was in a difficult position to be sure. It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. But on the other hand, this went on for ninety minutes. it was evident from the beginning the direction Trump was going and he did not waver. It seems reasonable to expect that perhaps at the midway point, if not before. Wallace would have simply stopped the proceedings, taken a time out, something. Yes, it would have been an extraordinary step for him to take. But desperate times call for desperate measures and Trump is out of control. That’s been evident for quite some time. Trump respects no one and nothing and that isn’t going to change. Since Trump won’t adapt, moderators and journalists must — or it will be off the rails.