This article appeared online at on Wednesday, September 2, 2020:

The Council on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced on Wednesday that Fox News’ Chris Wallace will be the sole moderator of the first presidential debate. It will be held on Tuesday night, September 29, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time and running for 90 minutes.

The Council also named Susan Page of USA Today, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, and Kristen Walker of NBC News to moderate the other debates. For the first time since 2008, there will be no moderator from CNN.

Said the CPD co-chairs:

We are grateful to these experienced journalists, who will help ensure that the general election presidential debates continue to serve their unique educational purpose of helping the public learn about the candidates.


Each individual brings great professionalism to moderating and understands that the purpose of the 2020 debate formats is to facilitate in-depth discussion of major topics.

Wallace was the first Fox journalist to moderate a presidential debate, taking on the role in the third debate in 2016 between and Donald Trump. Following sharp questioning by Wallace — Clinton about her deleted e-mails, the Clinton Foundation, and sexual-assault allegations against her husband; Trump about his sexual-assault allegations and his alleged unwillingness to accept the results of the election — both thanked him and commended his performance.

“Chris Wallace intends to have a serious discussion,” tweeted Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal partway through that third debate, adding later on, “So far the winner of this debate is Chris Wallace.”

At the end of the third debate, Jennifer Rubin of the  Post said, “No one could watch the final debate and deny that Chris Wallace is among the best in the business.”

The first debate will be divided up into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each, on major topics that Wallace himself will select. He will announce those topics a week before the debate.

Wallace will open each segment with a question and then give each candidate two minutes to respond. Each candidate will then have a chance to respond to the other, with Wallace the clock and possibly inserting another question if time allows.

Democrats are hoping that this time their candidate will get Wallace’s name right. In early March he appeared on Wallace’s Fox News Sunday for the first time in 13 years. As the interview ended, Wallace said, “Mr. Vice President, thank you. Thanks for your time. Please come back in less than 13 years, sir.”

“All right, Chuck. Thank you very much,” replied Biden.

“All right, it’s Chris, but anyway,” laughed Wallace.

“Chris. I just did Chris. No, no, I just did Chuck. I tell you what, man, these [interviews] are back-to-back. Anyway, I can do it early in the morning, too,” said Biden.

But the debates are late at night, Joe. A gaffe like that and your campaign is over, Mr. Vice President.

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