"Mr President, let him answer!"
"Mr President, please stop".
These are just some of the moments from the Tuesday night presidential debate that illustrated moderator Chris Wallace’s complete lack of control over the situation.
While political debates always come with a certain amount of back-and-forth, going over time, and interruptions, it was clear to many that Wallace had virtually no command over the situation.
The Fox News host spent the evening repeatedly trying to keep Donald. Trump from interrupting his debate opponent Joe Biden.
"It's hard to get any word in with this clown," Biden said at one point, "excuse me, this person."
Ahead of the event Wallace said he would try to be “as invisible as possible” as he moderated, but this did not work out as planned.
“Mr President, I am the moderator of this debate, and I would like you to let me ask my question and then you can answer it,” he told the president, following repeated interruptions of Biden’s answers.
Later on, he said with tensions running high: "You know, sir, if you wanna switch seats, we could do that."
Wallace faced mounting criticism throughout the evening, combined with a slew of coverage generally calling the debate chaotic and insult-ridden, with people saying he had let the candidates completely run wild.
Debate-watchers called his moderating “embarrassing” and “out-of-control”, that allowed Trump to “behave like a schoolyard bully”.
Speaking on the metaphorical “switching of seats” comment, journalist Brian Stelter tweeted, “Yes, but the metaphorical switch happened in the first 5 minutes. Trump took control by interrupting and interjecting while Joe Biden spoke…”
Other expanded their criticism beyond just his wrangling-skills: “Don't just condemn Chris Wallace's performance because he was never in control. His questions were ill-structured. He didn't follow-up. And he did not ask the big questions that needed asking,” David Rothkopf tweeted.
Others not as hard on Wallace, saying it was essentially impossible to make Trump follow the rules and decorum of the debate stage.
“Short of stopping the debate and telling the president, you're violating the rules and I won't go on like this, not sure what the solution was,” Michael Barbaro tweeted, saying he was not sure if there was really anything Wallace could have done differently.
Even so, the moderator himself seemed to realise the extent of the mayhem. Speaking after a lengthy tirade by Trump, Biden said, “I can’t remember everything he was ranting about.”
“I’m having trouble myself,” Wallace replied.