Chris Wallace received negative marks for his constant interruptions of President Donald Trump, and for his poor time management, but the worst thing about his moderation of the first presidential debate on Tuesday were the questions he asked.
Here are the 11 dumbest, most slanted questions asked by Wallace.
1. ‘What is radical about racial sensitivity training?’
“This month, your administration directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training that addresses white privilege or critical race theory. Why did you decide to do that, to end racial sensitivity training? And do you believe that there is systemic racism in this country, sir?” Wallace asked.
Wallace’s framing of the issue here was factually false and designed to make Trump look racist. Not only did he misconstrue the objectively racist idea of critical race theory as “racial sensitivity training,” but he then followed up Trump’s answer on the issue with another trick question, “What is radical about racial sensitivity training?”
It is not true that Trump banned diversity training from federal agencies, only trainings that teach racist, anti-American ideas such as “critical race theory” or “white privilege.”
The trainers then ask “white managers” to create “safe spaces,” where black employees can explain “what it means to be black” and to be “seen in their pain.” White staffers are instructed to keep silent and to “sit in the discomfort” of their racism. If any conflicts arise, the trainers insist that whites “don’t get to decide when someone is being too emotional, too rash [or] too mean.” Whites are told they can’t protest if a person of color “responds to their oppression in a way [they] don’t like.”
Trump effectively answered the question, by pointing out that critical race theory teaches hatred of America and that this is unacceptable, but Wallace appeared to only know how the New York Times characterizes the racist belief system.
2. Will you condemn white supremacists?
“You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left-wing extremist groups. But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia group and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” Wallace asked.
This was Wallace’s most disgusting question. While Antifa, which has organizations throughout the country, has set fire to cities across the country, there is no evidence whatsoever that violence in Kenosha was caused by white supremacists.
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) September 30, 2020
Wallace also refused to accept Trump’s answer of “sure” and “I’m willing to do anything…I want to see peace,” instead, choosing to press him on “specifically” condemning white supremacy.
“Well do it, sir,” Wallace said, joined by Biden.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem this is a left-wing,” Trump replied.
That debate was garbage but this is the actual transcript of the white supremacy exchange. Trump didn't "refuse" to denounce white supremacy, as much of the media is now saying. Look at his first reply.
Sure, take issue with how he handled the q, but don't misinform people. pic.twitter.com/TIg2WSxKVj
— Emily Jashinsky (@emilyjashinsky) September 30, 2020
3. ‘Why are you holding big rallies?’
“Are you not worried about the disease issues, sir?” Wallace asked, minutes after Trump explained his COVID-19 vaccine plan.
Wallace felt the need to ask why a presidential candidate was campaigning on-the-ground and then insinuated that maybe he shouldn’t be campaigning because of COVID-19. This matches the Democrat Party talking point about COVID-19 requiring the banning of children from schools, the closure of businesses, and the denial of conservative First Amendment activities such as church and political gathering. But as demonstrated by the widespread media support for mass gatherings and riots in support of the BLM agenda, this is not a genuine concern but one deployed for partisan political gain.
4. Do you believe there is an unequal system of justice for blacks?
“I want to return to the question of race. Vice President Biden, after the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case, decided not to charge any of the police with homicide, you said it raises the question, ‘Whether justice could be equally applied in America.’ Do you believe that there is a separate but unequal system of justice for blacks in this country?”
Moderators can ask a question neutrally, they can ask a question adopting the framing of the left, or they can ask a question adopting the framing of the right. In every single case, Wallace adopted the framing of the left. Here, that framing resulted in a softball question that Biden had no difficulty responding to and quickly moving past, even if his answer that he believed America was a systematically racist country should have earned a follow-up. “What is your responsibility for this inherently racist country, given your 47 years in public life?” Wallace might have asked. But he did not.
He also could have asked about the Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris accusing him of racism during the primary.
5. Do you believe in climate change?
“Mr. President, you said, ‘I don’t think the science knows.’ Over your four years, you have pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. You have rolled back a number of Obama Environmental records, what do you believe about the science of climate change and what will you do in the next four years to confront it?”
Wallace clarified his leading question by asking if Trump really believed in climate change, why would he have made the policy changes he did.
“But, sir, if you believe in the science of climate change, why have you rolled back the Obama Clean Power Plan which limited carbon emissions and power plants? Why have you relaxed…?” Wallace continued. Chris Horner replied:
At no point did Wallace consider the possibility that policy makers could protect the environment without murdering jobs. He did not seem aware of the possibility that large regulatory frameworks ostensibly about environmental protection are actually about building up the unaccountable administrative state.
Separately, he didn’t ask Biden any similar questions about science acceptance such as why, if he believes in science, he supports legalized ending of human lives via abortion and forcing taxpayers to fund the practice against their conscience. And as Andy McCarthy points out, it was not Wallace who pressed Biden on his support of the Green New Deal, but Trump.
Biden doesn’t support the Green New Deal.
Oh, Wallace got that out of him?
No, Trump did.
Oh, well, did Wallace clarify what’s parts of Green New Deal Biden is against?
No, needed to move on …
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) September 30, 2020
6. ‘I’m having a little trouble myself.’
When the question came around to Biden, he had forgotten what the topic was, saying “I can’t remember which of all his rantings …” Wallace laughed, said, “I’m having a little trouble myself,” and they had a moment of shared hatred of Trump.
Wallace then helped him along repeatedly, prodding him to talk about the economy and the environment. Minutes earlier, Biden had denied that he supported the Green New Deal. But then he said, “The Green New Deal will pay for itself as we move forward.” Wallace asked him if he did, in fact, support the Green New Deal. He once again returned to claiming he didn’t. “No, I don’t support the Green New Deal.” His web site, however, supports the radical Green New Deal policy co-sponsored by his running mate Kamala Harris, and lists it as a “crucial framework” for addressing climate change” on his campaign website.
7. Will you wait to declare an election victory?
“Will you urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period, not to engage in any civil unrest? And will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified?”
8. How will you reassure voters the next president is legitimate?
“As we meet tonight, millions of Americans are receiving mail-in ballots or going to vote early. How confident should we be that this will be a fair election, and what are you prepared to do over the next five-plus weeks? Because it will not only be to election day but also counting some mail-in ballots after election day. What are you prepared to do to reassure the American people that the next president will be the legitimate winner of this election?”
Wallace continued his not-so-subtle suggestion that Trump might not accept the election results by throwing in this question about the legitimacy of this election. What Wallace failed to mention was that many Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 claimed they did not accept the legitimate results of the election. Even recently, Hillary Clinton has claimed that the election was “stolen” from her.
9. Are you counting on SCOTUS to settle voting disputes?
“You have been charging for months that mail-in balloting is going to be a disaster. You say it’s rigged, that it’s going to lead to fraud. But in 2018, in the last midterm election, 31 million people voted mail-in voting. That was more than a quarter of all the voters that year, cast their ballots by mail. Now that millions of mail-in ballots have gone out, what are you going to do about it? And are you counting on the Supreme Court, including a Justice Barrett, to settle any dispute?”
It is unclear what Wallace was attempting to get at in asking this question. The media have repeatedly conflated absentee ballots, military ballots, and established state-based mail-in-balloting with a rush to implement universal mail-in balloting. That rush has already led to problems.
By asking this question, Wallace seemed to reject the idea that voter fraud might actually make this election susceptible to questions of the legitimacy he referred to in his previous questions. Wallace reiterated this idea by clarifying that mail-in voting fraud is not the problem.
“The biggest problem, in fact, over the years with mail-in voting has not been fraud, historically. It has been that sizable numbers, sometimes hundreds of thousands of ballots are thrown out because they have not been properly filled out, or there is some other irregularity, or they missed [crosstalk 01:06:28] the deadline. So the question I have is, are you concerned that the Supreme Court with a Justice Barrett will settle any dispute?”
1o. ‘Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?’
Wallace asked this question after Trump had already given an answer for how much he paid in federal income taxes those years. This general question is a great example of how Wallace takes his direction from the New York Times, even though the New York Times has not published its evidence in support of its claim about how much Trump paid in taxes, and even though Trump’s attorneys have said on the record that Trump paid millions in those years.
While Wallace thought this was a fitting question, he never asked Joe Biden about his son and brother profiting from foreign governments while he was vice president, even though the information about said profiteering came from official Treasury Department reports that were obtained by Senate investigators.
When Trump attempted to bring up Hunter Biden’s relations with Russia, pointing out that Hunter “made a fortune in Ukraine, in China, in Moscow and various other places” after Biden became vice president, Wallace wrote him off claiming that “the American people would rather hear about more substantial subjects.”
“We’ve already been through this. I think the American people would rather hear about more substantial subjects. As the moderator, sir, I’m going to make a judgment call here,” Wallace said, changing the segment to focus on climate change.
Wallace also refused to ask Joe Biden any questions about his involvement in the Russia collusion hoax, an elaborate scheme to tie Donald Trump to nefarious activities by Russia.
11. ‘We’ll come back to Roe v. Wade.’
Despite promises to circle back to discuss the topic of abortion that came up during the segment about Trump’s Supreme Court nomination Amy Coney Barrett, Wallace never brought it up again, even when he decided to ask science questions.
“Well, all right. All right. Let’s talk. We’ve got a lot to unpack here, gentlemen. We’ve got a lot of time. On healthcare, and then we’ll come back to Roe V. Wade,” Wallace said.
That unpacking, though, did not require any extra effort on Wallace’s part when he failed to push Biden after he refused to comment on Court-packing. In the end, it was Trump who continued to press Biden while Wallace moved on.