Who Is Moderating The Third Presidential Debate? He's Got History With Both Candidates
In just one week, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas will host the final debate between Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former Access Hollywood guest Donald Trump. Considering how widely moderating skills varied between the first two debates, "Who is moderating the third presidential debate?" is a very important question. Trump, a born salesman, is notoriously hard for some journalists to handle, and many are easily bamboozled by his doublespeak and evasiveness. To be sure, there are some that can handle Trump, but for every Martha Raddatz, there's a Matt Lauer.
The third debate will be moderated by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, and if I lost you at "Fox News," I'm not surprised. Megyn Kelly aside, the cable network has long been considered to be on Team Trump, due in no small part to Trump's close relationship with its former CEO, Roger Ailes. Ousted in July over a massive sex scandal, Ailes is now advising Trump, even while he's still simultaneously advising acting CEO Rupert Murdoch. Though some have called the Ailes connection a conflict of interest, Wallace actually has a history of being pretty tough on Trump, for a Fox News anchor, anyway. And if he wasn't afraid to call Trump out when he did work for Ailes, that bodes rather well for his case as a fair and balanced moderator.
Wallace has vowed not to fact-check Trump during Wednesday's debate, which is in holding with tradition, but as co-moderator of a Fox News Republican primary debate in March, not only did he fact-check him, he came armed with slides. Multiple slides that proved a host of Trump's known talking points to be false. He's also confronted Trump surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie on his show, and has called out Trump directly for some of his worst offenses, such as his proposed Muslim ban. But that's not to say that Wallace is in Clinton's pocket by any means; this past July, after the FBI cleared her of any wrongdoing, Wallace still went in on her over those darn emails.
It's becoming increasingly difficult for journalists to maintain an air of neutrality amid such a deeply polarizing campaign. In races past, both sides could generally understand each other's views, even if they didn't agree. But the 2016 race is tearing apart families like the Civil War, and causing Facebook users to purge their friend lists. Newspaper editorial boards are breaking with decades- or even century-old traditions to endorse candidates. Can anyone truly be fair and balanced when faced with the prospect of Clinton versus Trump? If anyone can, it just might be Wallace.