Fox News anchor Chris Wallace and the Commission on Presidential Debates have announced the topics to be covered at the first debate next Tuesday the 29th in Cleveland.
Wallace’s own Fox News reports the topics as, “The brutal Supreme Court nomination battle, the worst pandemic to strike the globe in a century, a national economy flattened by the coronavirus, and the protests and violence that have flared in cities across the nation this summer will be some of the major topics Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump will debate next week as they face off for the first time in the 2020 general election…Wallace also included the Biden and Trump records and the integrity of the election – another crucial issue considering the president for months has railed against expanded voting by mail amid the pandemic, repeatedly charging that it would lead to a ‘rigged election.’ ”
The debate will be divided up into six fifteen minute long segments on each topic. While both sides agreed to Wallace, there are supporters of the president who do not trust the Fox anchor’s objectivity.
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) September 22, 2020
Wallace regularly expresses negative views on the president on his Fox Sunday morning talk show. He is also old DC media aristocracy, as his father is famed CBS and 60 Minutes liberal journalist Mike Wallace. Thus given his pedigree, his personal feelings towards Trump are likely very negative as well.
Will that manifest itself into gotcha questions to the president and softballs to Biden? If so, the president will gain against Wallace, as Trump has proven time and time again he knows how to handle biased newsies to his advantage.
On the other hand, even if the questions are softballs, what will Wallace do when Biden inevitably loses control and starts spouting gibberish? Will Wallace cover for Biden and try to move on? Will he, as other journos have done for Democrats in the middle of presidential debates, intervene to help Biden out of a Trump attack based on Biden’s inability to answer a question?
The DC smart money is that Wallace will try to retain a veneer of objectivity, while phrasing questions in such a way to hurt the president. If he does that, Wallace is just setting up a Trump win in the first debate.