In his first on-air appearance since Tuesday night’s chaotic presidential debate that he moderated, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Thursday placed the blame on President Donald Trump for the debate devolving into what a CNN reporter described as a “shitshow.”
Wallace, one of the most respected and revered newsmen in the business, has weathered a storm of criticism over his inability to maintain control on Tuesday as Trump quickly disregarded the rules and began steamrolling Wallace and Joe Biden, something he acknowledged in an interview with The New York Times.
“I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did,” Wallace told the Times on Wednesday. “I’ve read some of the reviews, I know people think, well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough. 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.”
The Fox News Sunday host went on to say that he’s been doing some “soul-searching” and that he is “disappointed with the results” for both himself and the country.
During an interview with Fox News colleague Bill Hemmer on Thursday afternoon, Wallace attempted to handle the fallout from the disastrous debate with a bit of humor. After Hemmer played some clips from the event, Wallace quipped that he “had just gotten over the PTSD” yet Hemmer had “put me right back into it.”
Wallace went on to give his personal experience of the evening, saying that he felt that once Trump began engaging with Biden that they were “going to have a real debate” before it became “clearer and clearer over time that this was something different.”
Noting that one analysis showed Trump interrupted Biden’s answers or his questions at least 145 times, the Fox News anchor then pointed the finger directly at the president for why the debate went so poorly.
“He bears the primary responsibility for what happened on Tuesday,” Wallace plainly stated.
Noting that he’s received a “lot of criticism” while also claiming he’s “gotten a lot of praise,” the veteran moderator said “hindsight is 20/20” and that he regrets he didn’t step in earlier to stop the “total mess” that had resulted from Trump’s constant interruptions.
Finally, asked by Hemmer if he has rewatched the debate since Tuesday night, Wallace said “God no,” adding that it is “going to take a while before I watch this one again.”