Fox News Sunday host and moderator of this week’s disastrous presidential debate, Chris Wallace, blamed the president for what turned out to be a dumpster fire event during a Thursday interview with Fox’s Bill Hemmer.
Wallace jokingly told Hemmer that he’d “just gotten over post-traumatic stress disorder and now you’ve put me right back in” after a Fox video montage of debate interruptions played at the beginning of the interview segment.
Right away, the Sunday host not only had to relive the brutal night in which Wallace himself has taken criticism for, but he also had to navigate Hemmer’s attempts at placing blame on Joe Biden for what was clearly President’s Trump’s doing.
Hemmer started the interview by disingenuously citing his own network’s analysis, telling his audience: “Fox News broke it down, and the candidates interrupted moderator Chris Wallace 92 times combined.”
Wallace first spoke about what he saw happening in the beginning stages of the debate: “I thought, we’re going to have a real debate here. It became clearer and clearer over time that this was something different and that the president was determined to try to butt in and throw Joe Biden off.”
But then Wallace politely corrected the Fox stats Hemmer had mentioned previously by referring to them as “your statistics.”
“You gave your statistics. I saw another Fox analysis that indicates the president interrupted either Biden’s answers or my questions, a total of 145 times, which is way more than one a minute. And [Trump] bears the primary responsibility for what happened on Tuesday night,” Wallace said.
Wallace is correct. According to a report on Fox News’ website: Biden interrupted Wallace 18 times and Trump interrupted Wallace 74 times. But Hemmer presented those numbers combined without indicating to his viewers that the overwhelming majority of interruptions of Wallace came from the president.
Fox News’ website reads: “According to a Fox News analysis, Biden interrupted Trump 49 times and Wallace 18 times for a total of 67 interruptions. Trump, meanwhile, interrupted Biden 71 times and Wallace 74 times for a total of 145 interruptions.”
Wallace continued to speak about the trainwreck debate, his process and how he tried to take control.
“You know, in the beginning, I was cajoling. ‘Mr. President, wait a minute. I’ve got to ask a question that you’re going to want to hear.’ I guess I did that twice. And then I began being more forceful,” Wallace said, “And at a certain point, 45 minutes in, I called a halt to the debate for a moment and said, ‘You know, this really isn’t serving America,’ and, ‘Please stop the interruptions.’”
Wallace continued, “And the president said, ‘Well, why don’t you admonish [Biden]?’ And I said ‘Because you’re doing a lot more of the interrupting, Mr. President.’ Biden was doing some, no question about it, but less than half as many times as the president was.”
Hemmer then wanted to know if it was the strength of Trump’s voice that made things problematic.
“Was it your view that the president had more volume? And you heard that more than perhaps Joe Biden?”
Wallace acknowledged that Trump did speak loudly, but again turned to Fox’s own analysis of the number of times the president interrupted the proceedings.
The president “certainly talked louder. But he also talked more often. I mean, as I said the Fox News analysis, 145 times [Trump interrupted],” Wallace said.
Wallace spoke about the many hours he devoted to preparing for the debate and used a metaphor that, again, placed the blame on Trump for ruining it for everyone — including the American people.
“You know, I felt like I had gotten together all of the ingredients. I had baked this beautiful, delicious cake. And then, frankly, the president put his foot on it. And that was frustrating because — frustrating for me because I tried hard to prepare for a serious debate,” Wallace said, adding, “Much more frustrating and, more importantly, for the American people because they didn’t get the debate they wanted and that they deserved.”
Hemmer then said that Trump attacked Wallace during the debate, saying, “You know, the president at one point said it’s two-on-one. He felt like he was debating you and Joe Biden.”
And then Hemmer again focused on Biden, saying, “Others have suggested that Joe Biden didn’t answer a lot of the questions… about the filibuster and the Supreme Court.”
Wallace corrected Hemmer, saying that Biden “answered the question.” But, he said that Trump would have been better off allowing Biden to answer uninterrupted.
During an interview about how all parties involved could have handled the widely-panned event differently, Hemmer was not critical of Trump once.
Hemmer did ask Wallace, “Have you gone back to watch [the debate] or will you?”
To which Wallace responded, “Oh, god no, no, no. It wasn’t something I’d want to revisit.”
I think we can all agree with Wallace there. And, because of Hemmer, we could probably add this interview to the no re-watch list too.