After it was announced that Fox’s Chris Wallace (“Fox News Sunday”) would be moderating one of the presidential debates between Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, Wallace’s colleague Howard Kurtz sat him down for a few questions.
The main question Kurtz posed to Wallace: “What do you do if you catch one of the candidates in a lie? Do you stop them?”
Wallace — as Mediaite noted — has never shied away from the hard questions when he has the candidates on his show and said he’d likely opt to stay out of it:
“That’s not my job. I do not believe that it’s my job to be a truth squad. It’s up to the other person to catch them on that.
I view it as kind of like being a referee in a heavyweight championship fight. If it succeeds, after it’s over people will say, ‘You did a great job. I don’t even remember you being on the stage.'”
There are some who would take issue with Wallace’s position:
@FoxNews Then why moderate? Can they select someone else? Replace Wallace with a reputable journalist.
— T. Cherry (@kreame1) September 4, 2016
Translation: Chris Wallace thinks his job as a moderator is to referee a dog fight and sound the bell. Great journalism.
— Citizen, Interrupted (@NYwonk) September 4, 2016
I feel like I am watching a Lifelock commercial. I monitor the debate for errors — but I won't actually do anything about them
— She Persisted (@Imwithhernow) September 4, 2016
But some pointed out that Wallace might be right:
He is right. The mod shouldn't become the story. As I recall a Mod mistakenly corrected a candidate a few years back.
— Judson McCulloch (@JudsonMcCulloch) September 6, 2016
And that Americans tend to get angry when moderators insert themselves into the debate:
"Candy Crowley was made an honorary Secret Service agent, because nobody protected the President at that debate like she did" -Dennis Miller
— Dr. Jim Chookagian (@nf3l) October 21, 2012
I hope the next debate they get a moderator that can keep from meddling in the debate like Candy Crowley. They have no business butting in.
— Ed Hunter (@edhunter54) October 20, 2012
Candy Crowley has discredited herself as a journalist and a moderator. This was the worst performance by a moderator ever. #Debate"
— ❌Prudence❌ (@dennygirltwo) October 20, 2012
Candy Crowley's Debate Moderation Exemplifies Why Americans Do Not Trust Their Media http://t.co/Upg1QyLw
— SlightStrider (@slightstrider) October 19, 2012
Especially when their “fact-checks” happen to be wrong:
In spite of the varying opinions currently being aired on social media, Wallace’s position lines up with the traditional job description of a “debate moderator“: “The moderator acts as a neutral party who maintains the focus of the debate and ensures equal time for responses.”