If you’ve watched most any debate involving Donald Trump, you’ve perhaps at some point had the impression he was debating not only the Democratic opponent, but also the moderator.
Last month’s one-on-one with Chris Wallace in the midst, for example, didn’t go wholly swimmingly:
Chris Wallace, over the course of the night, has moved from moderator to debater.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 30, 2020
Biden: "I can't keep track of all his ranting"
Wallace: *laughs* "I'm having trouble myself"
the mask is slipping, Chris #Debates2020
— Jessica O’Donnell (@heckyessica) September 30, 2020
There's a super easy way to figure out if you completely failed in your only job as a debate moderator: if anyone is talking about you instead of the candidates, you failed.
Tonight, the number one thing people are talking about is how the debate moderation was awful. pic.twitter.com/WKMLBgdBUh
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 30, 2020
But Thursday night’s refereeing by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker left many on the Right impressed.
Among that number: Donald Trump.
The 90-minute contest held at Nashville’s Belmont University was a very different experience than that of September 29th’s dust-up.
The President was certainly less aggressive; so goes it as well for the media mediator overseeing the extravaganza.
Trump seemed taken aback — he even offered kind words along the way:
“By the way, so far, I respect very much the way you are handling this, I have to say.”
— The Hill (@thehill) October 23, 2020
And while speaking about Biden Friday afternoon at a rally in Villages, Florida, the Commander-in-Chief paused to give Kristen her due:
“By the way, I got treated, I thought, very fairly by the anchor. I thought. Right? Kristen. I was surprised. She’s been a little bit rough on me over the years. I was surprised.”
President Trump praises Kristen Welker: "I got treated very fairly by the anchor." pic.twitter.com/U2vCw3ehbv
— The Hill (@thehill) October 23, 2020
Not that NBC’s gone soft:
“But her…network has been crazy. NBC. Concast. CON — Concast. But I thought Kristen did a very good job yesterday. Some people said she interrupted me more than she interrupted sleepy Joe, but that’s because he didn’t have that much to say…”
Twitter saw much of the same, from both sides:
Welker overall doing an excellent job thus far.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) October 23, 2020
Update: Kristen Welker is killing it ya'll. https://t.co/JiHVNZrqhO
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 23, 2020
— Carly Henderson (@carlyhenderson_) October 23, 2020
. @kwelkernbc had an impossible task tonight and she did a fantastic job. The best debate moderator in the last two cycles.
A) Muting was only for the two minute answer section
B) Blame the debate commission for the fact-checking…that is their directive re moderators
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 23, 2020
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) October 23, 2020
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) October 23, 2020
CNN’s Chris Cillizza put it this way:
There’s no question that the NBC White House correspondent was the most effective moderator of this debate season. (I am including both the other presidential debate as well as the VP debate.)
Back to Chris Wallace, he expressed envy over Presidential Debate #2. But not necessarily in a non-partisan way:
“First of all, I’m jealous. I would’ve liked to have been able to moderate that debate and get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions.”
Oh, well — he’s a moderator…not a moderate.
Personally, I agree with the President. I was quite surprised by Kristen’s performance, and between her measured involvement and the tone of discussion, I found the final debate of 2020 to be a breath of fresh air.
The national media are clearly in the tank for Joe, but at least they broadcast a pretty evenhanded display of America’s two very different choices.
Politics has always been polarizing, but this election, it seems to me, is one of particularly extreme options and will decide our trajectory in an unprecedented way.
Hopefully, voters understand the position of both candidates and the real-world effects if their agendas are put into practice.
That’s wishing for a lot, but so was hoping Thursday night would go so agreeably well.
“It’s not easy,” Trump said Friday. “I thought [Kristen] was fair. I said it to her on the show. I said, ‘I think you’ve handled it very professionally.'”
Do you think Welker was on point? Do you believe the debate changed many minds?
Let us all know in the Comments section.
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