The Real Loser of the Presidential Debate Was the Moderator

By Jordyn Carrido

It is safe to say that nearly everyone was dissatisfied with the performances at the debate last Tuesday. Both candidates came off as petulant and immature with their incessant arguing and interrupting. Obviously, the purpose of a debate is for candidates to argue the issues. But, instead of them presenting their platforms to the American people, we saw President Trump and former Vice President Biden being disrespectful, with Biden actually resorting to name-calling (14:22). None of this was made better by Chris Wallace’s lackluster performance as moderator. He was weak from the start, setting the precedent that the participants could speak over each other and then, when he tried to regain control, it felt very one-sided and, honestly, quite rude. 

It was expected that the candidates would be fierce in their attacks against one another. The first segment was about President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination and whether or not it was appropriate for him to nominate a new justice so close to the election. Both candidates were able to speak for their allotted two minutes without interruption – which is something that viewers were not able to witness again for the rest of the night. After Mr. Biden finished his response to the question about the Supreme Court nomination, President Trump immediately jumped in with his counter attack. Biden then interrupted Trump – the first interruption of the night. 

At that point, it became a free-for-all with both candidates yelling over each other, with neither being heard nor understood. It was over a minute before the moderator, Chris Wallace, stepped in. When he did so, he interrupted the president mid-sentence, just to establish that the open debate portion of the segment had officially begun. 

I personally played basketball growing up, and I could always tell what kind of referees I had by the first call they made. If it was traveling or a three second count, I knew they paid attention to detail and it would probably be a good game. If they did not start calling fouls until bodies were hitting the floor, then I knew we were in for a rough game. But the worst refs were the ones who ignored the initial foul and instead called the retaliation. 

In terms of the debate, Joe Biden was the first to interrupt at 7:16 into the debate. Chris Wallace said nothing. Another thirty seconds of back-and-forth arguing passed before Wallace interrupted President Trump to announce the open discussion portion of the segment. At 9:16, Chris Wallace once again interrupted the president and gave speaking time to Joe Biden. This pattern of the candidates interrupting each other continued intermittently. Wallace would interrupt them in vain attempts to get control of the debate, and they would in turn interrupt him to try to finish making their points.

Just like the horrible refs I faced growing up, Wallace called out Trump on his retaliation instead of checking Biden for interrupting in the first place. And just like those refs, at that moment Wallace lost the respect of the candidates and the viewers. Once the tone is set that the players can get away with whatever they want, the natural inclination is to continue to push the boundaries as far as they can. 

Thus, Chris Wallace not being firm at minute six of the debate led to a whole ninety minutes of three old men yelling at and over each other while the rest of us at home put our heads in our hands and waited for it to end. Wallace failed to enforce the ground rules early on in the debate, and, once the candidates realized he had no spine to keep them in check, it was nothing but churlish and petulant screaming for the rest of the night. 

This debate was bad. No one came out on top, nor won, nor even made any progress in furthering their cause. Chris Wallace could have avoided all this nonsense if he had just blown the whistle early instead of waiting until fights had already broken out. America is worse for having watched that disorderly, chaotic debate. 

Thanks, Chris Wallace. 

Jordyn Carrido is a senior at Chapman University. She is graduating in the fall semester with a B.S. in Business Administration.

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