During the COVID-19-beleaguered presidential debates in the 2020 race, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News was accused by President Trump of being the opponent, not the moderator.
It didn’t get a lot better from there.
Now in a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has run those events during presidential races for years, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has told members to fix the problems – or face the prospect that the RNC will advise future GOP candidates to boycott.
A report from CNN described McDaniel as having “excoriated” the commission in her letter.
“The CPD’s repeated missteps and the partisan actions of its board members make clear that the organization no longer provides the fair and impartial forum for presidential debates which the law requires and the American people deserve,” McDaniel charged.
“Our sincere hope is that the CPD accepts this criticism and works to correct its mistakes,” she said. “If not, the RNC will have no choice but to advise future Republican candidates against participating in CPD-hosted debates, and the RNC will look for other options for its candidates to debate the issues before the American people in a neutral and nonpartisan forum.”
CNN said McDaniel explained further, “The Republican Party needs assurances that the CPD will make meaningful reforms to the debate process by working with stakeholders to restore the faith and legitimacy it has lost.”
The commission had held general election debates since 1988, but itself was the subject of controversy during the 2020 events over what it did.
President Trump accused the commission of picking biased moderators, criticized its arbitrary decision to try to hold one debate virtually, and more.
“The letter from McDaniel walks through Republicans’ numerous complaints about the commission, including its decision on when to hold the debates, some of the political leanings of its board members and the selection of C-SPAN’s Steve Scully to moderate what would have been the second contest,” the report said.
Scully previously had worked for Biden, and he “accidentally” reached out on social media to Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly was a White House communications director for Trump, about the president.
Scully then lied, claiming he had been hacked, which he later conceded was not true.
McDaniel explains to the commission the perception of bias when a “moderator” previously has worked for one of the candidates.
“It should be obvious, for instance, that no person should serve as a moderator who previously worked for one of the candidates,” she said.
McDaniel suggested term limits for its board, “prohibiting members from making public comments about any candidates — and punishing them if they do — and committing to holding at least one debate before early voting begins,” the report said.
The first debate of 2020 was billed as Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden, but not long into the 90-minute event the president acknowledged a second opponent, Wallace.
Wallace repeatedly asked Trump to stop interrupting while the president argued Biden also was interrupting.
“Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Wallace said.
When Wallace criticized one of Trump answers regarding Obamacare, Trump told him, “I guess I’m debating you, not him.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2020
On Twitter, Trump criticized Wallace.
“Chris had a tough night. Two on one was not surprising, but fun,” the president wrote. “Many important points made, like throwing Bernie, AOC PLUS 3, and the rest, to the wolves! Radical Left is dumping Sleepy Joe. Zero Democrat enthusiasm, WEAK Leadership!”
In fact, Wallace had no input when Biden called Trump a “clown” and told him to “shut up, man.”
Trump retweeted several comments about Wallace, including: “If you still can’t figure out why the American public doesn’t trust the media … just rewatch Chris Wallace’s performance tonight.”
The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra tweeted, “Chris Wallace had the opportunity tonight to get more information to the American voter on Biden and he failed.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “Chris Wallace owes @realDonaldTrump and the American People an apology after the way he conducted himself tonight!”
Another said, “Chris Wallace personified why the American public at large distrust the media.”
Saavedra noted in a Daily Wire piece that Wallace is a registered Democrat and was facing “backlash” for “what was widely deemed as bias.”
“One of the issues that Wallace was called out for the most was how he appeared to let Biden interrupt Trump but would jump in to interrupt Trump when Trump would talk over Biden,” he wrote.
Fox News co-host Brian Kilmeade tweeted: “Why is @JoeBiden allowed to interrupt? A@realDonaldTrump is not.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham agreed: “Biden seems to interrupt with impunity.”
Former federal prosecutor and Fox News analyst Andy McCarthy wrote, “Chris Wallace jumps in a second time when Biden having trouble with Trump’s questioning.”
Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly tweeted, “Good line from Trump—he tells Chris Wallace he’s debating him, not Joe.”
Actor James Woods wrote on Twitter: “Chris Wallace is shamelessly biased. It’s a beautiful demonstration of fake news in action. I’m actually glad it’s happening, because you can see it for yourself.”
The Federalist’s Sean Davis tweeted: “Chris Wallace is making very clear that his goal tonight is to run interference for Joe Biden. If he wants to be a deranged NeverTrumper, that’s his prerogative, but Wallace is doing everything in his power to tilt the election toward his preferred candidate. Everyone can see it.”
Commentator Ben Shapiro said Wallace simply “moved from moderator to debater.”
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