The light-years advancement in civility and discourse between the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 and the Thursday night one left much-maligned first debate moderator Chris Wallace feeling “jealous.”
NBC News White House correspondent and Weekend Today anchor Kristen Welker was widely praised for smoothly moderating the Thursday night debate, when it appeared a new rule to mute candidates after two minutes was barely necessary. She directed tough, fair questions to both candidates and kept the conversation moving for 90 minutes.
Even President Trump went from saying Welker is “terrible” and “unfair” in pre-event tweets and FOX News appearances to telling Welker during the debate, “I respect very much the way you’re handling this.”
Wallace, a FOX News anchor, was criticized by both sides after the first attempt at a debate that devolved into cross talk and trash talk, including Trump telling Wallace, “I guess I’m debating you, not him.”
“I would have liked to have been able to moderate that debate and to get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions,” Wallace said on FOX News after the debate.
Welker, 44, was in high school for the only other presidential debate moderated by a black woman, ABC News’ Carole Simpson in 1992.
Steve Schmidt, former adviser to Sen. John McCain, said Welker put on “a debate moderation clinic” and FOX News anchor Harris Faulker said she “gave the American people a real debate.”
It seems like going from “worst debate in presidential history” to a substantive one on Thursday might have to do with the one difference–the moderator.