Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Thursday placed the blame largely on President Donald Trump for the breakdown of the first presidential debate this week.
Wallace, the moderator of Tuesday’s faceoff between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, told The New York Times Wednesday that the president’s behavior “certainly didn’t help,” but he did not apportion blame.
But Wallace dove deeper in an interview Thursday with his Fox News colleague, Bill Hemmer. He said that initially, when Trump started engaging Biden, he thought, “We’re going to have a real debate here.” But it soon became clear to him that this was something different.
“The president was determined to try to butt in and throw Joe Biden off,” he said, citing a Fox analysis that indicated Trump interrupted him and Biden a total of 145 times.
He added that Biden was partly culpable but that Trump “bears the primary responsibility for what happened.”
Trump repeatedly lied, interrupted and talked over both Biden and Wallace throughout the 90-minute debacle. Biden told him to “shut up” and called him a “clown.”
Wallace also expressed deep frustration about the hundreds of hours of work preparing questions intended to provoke a serious, substantive exchange of views on key issues between the two candidates.
“I feel like I had gotten together all of the ingredients,” he said. “I had baked this beautiful, delicious cake, and then frankly, the president put his foot in it.”
He added: “It was frustrating for me because I tried hard to prepare for a serious debate, much more frustrating and more importantly for the American people because they didn’t get the debate they wanted that they deserved.”
Asked if he would go back and rewatch the debate, Wallace said, “Oh, God, no.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates vowed to make format changes for the remaining debates following Tuesday’s widely criticized event.
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