Most, if not all of us who watched the train wreck that was the first presidential debate in September might have confessed to feeling anxious and jumpy when the final debate came along. Even then, none of us may have been as shellshocked as veteran newsman Chris Wallace, who ended up being the target of criticism from both sides for the way he handled what should have been an exchange of views, and ended up becoming a verbal brawl where few issues ended up being tabled for consideration.
During Fox News’ live coverage of the debate moderated by journalist Kristen Welker, Wallace congratulated Welker’s performance, saying: “Well, first of all, I’m jealous. I would have liked to have been able to moderate that debate. I thought it was a good debate. A good, substantive debate. Two very competing visions for the country.” He also heaped praise on Welker herself, saying she “did a very good job as the moderator” (via Market Watch).
Welker was also praised by a jury of her peers, who took to Twitter to congratulate her for a job well done. Maria Shriver tweeted: “Bravo, Kristen Welker! A great job moderating the #PresidentialDebate @NBCNews” The Washington Post‘s White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker also added his kudos, saying: “Kristen Welker is putting on a master class in how to moderate a presidential debate #boss”
Welker had previously been attacked by the Trump campaign
Kristen Welker’s performance as debate moderator even prompted President Donald Trump to say: “By the way so far I respect very much the way you’re handling this, I have to say” (via The Hill). The praise was in sharp contrast to the criticism Welker received from the Trump campaign in the days leading up to the debate. Before the event, Trump campaign senior adviser Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News: “We’ll see what happens. What we know about the moderator is she’s a bit of an activist, and we want a fair debate. We want the tough questions to come up on both sides,” prompting anchor Bill Hemmer to say, “Sorry, she’s a reporter,” Hemmer interrupted his guest. “She’s a reporter. She’s not an activist.” Trump had also tweeted: “She’s aways been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News. But I’ll still play the game” (via HuffPost).
The Hill also reported that Welker’s turn as podium has prompted colleagues like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams to ask for an apology on the journalist’s behalf. They may have to wait a while.
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