In October of 2016, Wallace was selected to moderate the third presidential debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and was widely praised for his performance.
“While on the one hand, it’s not good for the moderator to take on the politicians — you look kind of like a jerk — it’s also not good for the politicians to take on the moderator because they look like, you know, they don’t want to play by the rules. And, they look bad versus the others,” he noted.
“One of the things I would have said very early on [is]…’Let me just make it clear: anybody who raises their hand is not going to be called on. This is not third-grade. Don’t act like [it]…’ Wallace continued.
“Wow, you would have said that?” a surprised Kilmeade asked.
“Absolutely,” Wallace replied. “You know, maybe not in the beginning but when they’re all sitting there raising their hands like a bunch of third-grade kids trying to get the attention of the teacher, I would have absolutely said that.”
The stage is set for a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
During the debate in Charleston, S.C., “CBS This Morning’s” Gayle King and ” CBS Evening News” host Norah O’Donnell attempted to manage seven cagey 2020 presidential candidates just a week before the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries.
Although some viewers said they found the raucousness energizing, the candidates also grew frustrated. According to the LA Times, in an interview following the debate, CBS News’ President Susan Zirinsky shrugged off any criticism and defended her team.
“After next week, there are going to be a lot fewer people on that debate stage,” she said. “We’re at the precipice of the most dynamic part of the campaign.”
“I also would have said, ‘Your campaigns all agreed. Minute [and] fifteen answers,” Wallace stated further.
“Look, I’ve got six children. I know how to speak to children and I’ve had to…I would have been just like when I’m driving the car and don’t make me turn around. Don’t make me stop the car. I would have done it. Absolutely,” he assured Kilmeade.
“People probably would have criticized me,” he added, “but it…look, you couldn’t do worse than the criticism that you’ve gotten from this debate. It didn’t serve anybody. It didn’t make the moderators look good.
“It’s very simple,” Wallace explained. “You just say ‘Stop.’ And you bring the debate to a halt and you say ‘Nobody can hear anything’ and I think you shame them a little bit and say ‘You all sound foolish.’
“But, you do have to establish some order,” he remarked.
“Everybody needs to kind of channel their parents with naughty children and just stop them,” Wallace concluded.
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