Chris Wallace on ‘revealing’ presidential debate: To a 'degree, I thought it was a success'

Debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News Channel talks to the audience before U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020.
Brian Snyder | Reuters

Chris Wallace, "Fox News Sunday" anchor and longtime journalist, admits he was "disappointed" with the way Tuesday's night presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden turned out.

Trump and Biden clashed for the entire 90 minutes, often speaking over each other and Wallace, who moderated the chaotic debate.

But the 72-year-old anchor told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that, to a degree, he "thought it was a success."

"I think debates are about revealing what [the candidates] think. You certainly gained an insight into Donald Trump and what he's thinking and where he wants to take the country and how he wants to take the country there," Wallace said in the phone interview. "It may not have been pretty, but it was revealing."

Wallace is the son of the late "60 Minutes" journalist Mike Wallace and the stepson of former CBS News president Bill Leonard. Before working at "Fox News Sunday," where he has been since 2003, Wallace was an anchor for "NBC Nightly News" and host of "Meet the Press."

As a teenager, Wallace got his first taste of politics when he became an assistant to Walter Cronkite during the 1964 Republican National Convention.

In 2016, Wallace also moderated the final presidential debate between Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday, Wallace told The New York Times he "never dreamt that [the debate] would go off the tracks the way it did."

"I wanted to be as invisible as possible, and to enable them to talk — to rise to the point at which you begin to interject more and more," he said. "First to say, 'Please don't interrupt,' then 'Please obey the rules,' and third, 'This isn't serving the country well.' Those are all tough steps at real time, at that moment, on that stage."

On Wednesday, The Commission on Presidential Debates said it plans to change the structure of the remaining debates to ensure a "more orderly discussion." A source close to the Commission told NBC News that the group is considering cutting off a candidate's microphone if they violate the rules.

Biden on Wednesday called Trump's behavior at the debate "a national disgrace," while Trump tweeted that he held Biden "accountable for 47 years of lies, 47 years of betrayals, and 47 years of failure."

The next debate between Trump and Biden is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.

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