Chris Wallace: Meet the moderator of the first Trump v Biden presidential debate

As an interviewer, Chris Wallace is widely regarded as ‘one of the best in the business’

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Thursday 24 September 2020 11:36 BST
Donald Trump gets angry when Chris Wallace pushes him on Biden claims

First Presidential Debate - Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Venue: Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio

Moderator: Chris Wallace

Chris Wallace, the anchor of Fox News Sunday, is a veteran political journalist, having also worked for both NBC and ABC earlier in his career, as a White House correspondent and host of Meet the Press and Nightline.

With 17 years at Fox News under his belt, Wallace has covered nearly every major political event during that period and is regarded as a tough interviewer. He secured the network’s first interviews with both Barack Obama and Donald Trump after they took office.

Wallace earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Interview for a July 2018 meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in which he asked him why so many of his political opponents end up dead.

In the 2016 election, Wallace was a moderator of one of the Republican Party presidential primary debates, alongside Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly; and was then chosen as the third presidential debate moderator.

The 19 October 2016 showdown between candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was the first time a Fox News anchor had moderated a general election debate event.

Wallace received praise from both sides for his tough questioning of both candidates, with one commentator calling him “among the best in the business”.

During the Trump presidency, while Fox News has often been mocked as “state TV” for its often unquestioning praise of the president during its morning and evening line-ups, Wallace has maintained his reputation as the most professional of journalists. He has questioned the administration’s actions and challenged the talking points of conservative commentators during both the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings and the Impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Chris Wallace calls out Trump for claims about a cognitive test he took

Most recently, in one of a series of disastrous television interviews for the White House over the summer of 2020, Wallace sat down with President Trump on 19 July for a wide-ranging discussion. He was widely praised by his press contemporaries, political commentators, and on social media generally, for his live fact-checking of the president and for holding him accountable for the actions of his administration.

Wallace corrected the president’s assertion, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, that Joe Biden wants to defund and abolish the police — “No, sir, he does not” — and challenged the inaccurate and skewed data regarding testing and mortality rates from Covid-19.

He maintains that through his life he has voted for both parties, and politicians from both sides of the aisle are wary of his hard-line of questioning.

A profile in The New York Times says that he is comfortable being a bit of an enigma: “For every Trump loyalist who views him as a heretic, there is a liberal who wishes he’d denounce colleagues like Sean Hannity.”

Wallace has selected six topics for the first presidential debate of 2020, each to be covered in a 15 minute-long segment: The Trump and Biden Records; The Supreme Court; Covid-19; The Economy; Race and Violence in our Cities; and The Integrity of the Election.

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