Fox’s Wallace Makes News With Follow-Up

Chris Wallace walked the finest of lines during a campaign where debate moderators received an intense focus. As the first-ever general election moderator of Fox News, he had the hopes of an organization in the midst of a tough year riding on him along with additional baggage. Noting Trump's claims Wednesday night that the election was being rigged against him, Wallace asked the Republican whether he would accept the results win or lose, noting that GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said that he would. When Trump answered that "we will look at it at the time," Wallace seemed incredulous.

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News’ Chris Wallace worked hard to keep the final presidential debate substantive with tough questions to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but it was the simplest of queries that extracted the biggest headline.

Noting Trump’s claims Wednesday night that the election was being rigged against him, Wallace asked the Republican whether he would accept the results win or lose, noting that GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said that he would. When Trump answered that “we will look at it at the time,” Wallace seemed incredulous.

The veteran newsman pointed out that a peaceful transition of power is one of the nation’s longest traditions, no matter how tough the campaign.

“Are you saying you’re not prepared to commit to that principle?” Wallace asked

Answered Trump: “I will keep you in suspense.”

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Wallace walked the finest of lines during a campaign where debate moderators received an intense focus. As the first-ever general election moderator of Fox News, he had the hopes of an organization in the midst of a tough year riding on him along with additional baggage. Fox critics worried that he’d go easy on Trump because of the GOP bent of Fox’s prime-time lineup.

He kept things straight and issue-oriented and rode herd on the audience and candidates to keep control. Wallace promised he would not take on the role of fact-checker and largely adhered to that, although he had one nasty exchange with Trump in correcting the candidate on statements made in Syria in the last debate.

Wallace tended to open a subject area with a general question before boring in on specifics to each candidate. For instance, he asked each candidate about their philosophies in naming Supreme Court justices, then moved in to ask Clinton about partial-birth abortions and Trump about whether he sought to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

“It was a fair and balanced debate,” said Megyn Kelly, Wallace’s Fox colleague. “He pressed both sides.”

Wallace asked Trump about the Republican’s denials that he had groped or made unwelcome advances to women. Several women have come forward with stories following the release of a lewd “Access Hollywood” tape where Trump bragged of touching women against their will, after Trump denied that he had engaged in the conduct.

“Why would so many different women from so many different circumstances over so many different years, why would they all in the last couple of weeks … make up these stories?” Wallace asked him.

When Trump claimed that “nobody has more respect for women than I do,” some audience members in Las Vegas laughed – and Wallace was quick to scold them. “Please, everybody,” he said.

While Trump twice made it a point to thank Wallace for questions posed to Clinton – including the former secretary of state’s claims in a leaked email about free trade – the Republican seemed visibly angry when the newsman tried to correct him on points made about Syria in a previous debate.

“If I may finish the question,” Wallace said.

His toughest exchange with Clinton came when he asked the Democrat about “pay-to-play” charges surrounding people who made contributions to the Clinton foundation. When Clinton answered by praising the work the Clinton foundation had done, Wallace interrupted her with a reminder to answer the question posed. She didn’t get the chance, since Trump interrupted at about the same time, and Wallace turned to him for a rebuttal.

While occasionally wordy, Wallace’s questions seemed designed to get the candidates talking and he mostly let them go at it. The candidates – typical for most debates – bulldozed past his questions at times but there seemed fewer interruptions than in the previous two debates.

The first debate, moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt, reached a record-setting audience of 84 million people. Last week’s second debate with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz sharing the journalists’ duties reached 66.5 million. Ratings for Wednesday’s debate will be released on Thursday.

Associated Press Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


Comments (16)

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Wagner Pereira says:

October 20, 2016 at 7:51 am

Exactly what I stated yesterday that Wallace would be seen as the best moderator this season come Thursday Morning while other posters went on to mock “Faux” News and asking why not Jon Stewart? You saw exactly why Fox News is not Faux News – and why Jon Stewart could never have done the job Wallace did – with Stewart’s softball questions to libs.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    October 20, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Even Liberal Leaning Amazon’s Washington Post “Chris Wallace: Wallace was the best moderator of the four debates – three presidential, one vice presidential. Poised and confident, he sought to steer the conversation without dominating it. He allowed the candidates to debate issues back and forth but, when they veered off course and didn’t answer his questions, he made sure to let them know about it. And, as was the case in other Fox-sponsored debates in the primary season, Wallace’s questions were just top-notch. On immigration, on the women alleging that Trump groped them, on the Clinton Foundation, Wallace asked blunt questions that demanded straight answers.” So much for Anderson Cooper.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    October 20, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Again, read the WaPo Line “And, as was the case in other Fox-sponsored debates in the primary season, Wallace’s questions were just top-notch.” As I stated yesterday, the Fox Business Debate and Chris Wallace would set the standard. Wallace deserves a permanent slot (if not every slot) given his performance Wednesday Night.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    October 20, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Liberal Favorite NY Times even heaped praise on him:
    “The smart money on Wednesday’s matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump was for a 12-round, no-holds-barred bout worthy of this city’s prizefights.

    But Chris Wallace wanted a debate. And for the most part, he got one.

    The first Fox News journalist chosen to moderate a general-election debate, Mr. Wallace mixed humor with scolding and persistence with patience to guide his charges toward the most substantive encounter of an unusually vicious election.

    Mr. Wallace’s watchword for the evening, it seemed, was “defuse”: He posed detailed questions on policy, opened the proceedings with a calm query about Supreme Court jurisprudence and kept an eyebrow firmly arched as Mrs. Clinton, and more often, Mr. Trump, attempted to talk over him.

    “I’m not a potted plant here,” Mr. Wallace said at one point, prompting laughter in the audience, when the candidates’ bickering threatened to drown him out. “I do get to ask some questions.”

    More: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/us/politics/chris-wallace-moderator.html?_r=0h

    Wagner Pereira says:

    October 20, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Even Andrea Mitchell on liberal leaning MSNBC was praising him.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    October 21, 2016 at 12:14 am

    As did CNN’s Political Advisor who is a Black Male, just like HopeUMakeIt who didn’t show his face today.

Joe Jaime says:

October 20, 2016 at 8:58 am

No doubt he kept it moving, and most of the time, kept the candidates pinned to the issues. Nice job Chris!

Gregg Palermo says:

October 20, 2016 at 8:59 am

I agree Chris Wallace is far better than most journalist hacks. I disagree that Trump’s “keep you in suspense” answer was (in Hillary’s words) “horrifying” — have we forgotten that Gore contested the 2000 outcome? If cornering a candidate into accepting the results of an election is logical, then we can also get rid of the challenge flag in football while we’re at it.

    kendra campbell says:

    October 20, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Say what? Gore won the popular vote. Bush won the Electoral College – winning Florida by 537 votes.
    If this election is that close – then Trump has every right not to concede. Obviously HRC is going to win by a very comfortable margin. Please get real.

Nicolas LETOURNEUR says:

October 20, 2016 at 9:43 am

2000 was very different. Gore won the popular vote and Florida was “too close to call.” Completely different. He felt that he legitimately won and wanted to make sure that all the votes were counted. Trump is questioning our democracy and the legitimacy of our elections, which are not controlled by any one party. He is suggesting that somehow the election will be rigged. Please don’t compare those two scenarios as if they are somehow remotely similar.

Ron Burrus says:

October 20, 2016 at 10:54 am

Overkill about not much. Just another way for our left leaning media to avoid dealing with the “horrifying” prospect of 4 years of Bill-ary.

Ellen Samrock says:

October 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Chris Wallace was far and away the best moderator of the three debates. Too bad he wasn’t moderating the first debate when it mattered. I doubt last night moved the needle one way or the other. Once again the news media exposes its bias by doing a faux swoon over Trump’s “We’ll see” response. But the fix is in. Expect a scandal-plagued one-term administration under Ms. Pantsuit.

james abels says:

October 20, 2016 at 2:11 pm

this was the only debate I watched because of Chris Wallace. He did a good job pressing both sides, and that is what I wanted to see.

Joe Jaime says:

October 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Consider this…if Hillary becomes President…Bill Clinton will be back in the White House …. now that is the “horrifying” thought!

    Wagner Pereira says:

    October 21, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Naw….he’ll be out of DC screwing Bimbos all the time under Continued Secret Service Protection.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    October 21, 2016 at 12:12 am

    You know…just the way Trump told how Famous people can do things and get away with it.


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