CLAIM: Chris Wallace told Fox News’s Bill Hemmer on Thursday that President Donald Trump bears the “primary responsibility for what happened” during Tuesday’s debate and claimed that it was Trump — not Joe Biden (D) — who set the tone of the debate by interrupting.
VERDICT: False. Biden set the tone for the debate by interrupting first.
“Here’s what happened. You know, we began the first segment on the Supreme Court. They each got their two minutes, and they both obeyed in that particular case. And then, Biden started to answer a question and the president started interrupting him,” Wallace said.
Wallace said his initial reaction was, “this is great” because debates too often become “parallel news conferences.”
“So when the president started engaging with Biden, I thought, ‘we’re going to have a real debate here.’ It became clearer and clearer over time that this was something different and that the president was determined to try to butt in and throw Joe Biden off,” Wallace continued, citing a Fox analysis asserting that Trump interrupted Biden and Wallace 145 times.
“He bears the primary responsibility for what happened on Tuesday,” Wallace said.
However, Wallace’s assertion — that Trump set the tone of the debate by interrupting first, is false, as Breitbart News’s John Nolte extensively detailed:
Trump answered the first debate question about the Supreme Court without interruption.
Biden answered the first debate question about the Supreme Court without interruption.
Then Trump started responding to Biden’s answer, and that’s when Wallace and Biden began cutting him off and interrupting…
Per the transcript:
DONALD TRUMP: There aren’t a hundred million people with pre-existing conditions. As far as a say is concerned, the people already had their say. Okay, Justice Ginsburg said very powerfully, very strongly — at some point, ten years ago or so — she said a president and the senate is elected for a period of time, but a president is elected for four years. We’re not elected for three years. I’m not elected for three years. So we have the senate, we have a president–
JOE BIDEN INTERRUPTION #1: He’s elected to the next election.
DONALD TRUMP: During that period of time, during that period of time, we have an opening. I’m not elected for three years. I’m elected for four years, and a hundred million people–
JOE BIDEN INTERRUPTION #2: Merrick Garland started–
DONALD TRUMP: Joe, the hundred million people is totally wrong. I don’t know where you got that number. The bigger problem that you have is that you’re going to extinguish 180 million people with their private health care, that–
JOE BIDEN INTERRUPTION #3: That’s simply not true.
DONALD TRUMP: Well, you’re certainly going to socialist, you’re going to socialist medicine–
At that point, Wallace interrupted, declaring it an open discussion and immediately handed the conversation to Biden:
CHRIS WALLACE: Gentlemen, we’re now into open discussion.
JOE BIDEN: Open discussion.
CHRIS WALLACE: Open discussion, yes, I agree. Go ahead, vice president.
Tensions soared even further during the debate after Wallace introduced inflammatory questions, asking the president inaccurate questions on Charlottesville, repeating the “very fine people” hoax. He falsely implied that the president never condemned white supremacists, and he falsely asserted that Trump ended racial sensitivity training altogether.
As Breitbart News’s Nolte summarized:
So it was not only Biden who set the tone that it was okay to interrupt and heckle, it was also Wallace who interrupted Trump on three occasions, just as he was making valid points about the Democrat Party’s affection for stripping all of us of our private health insurance, the VA scandal, and how Biden’s affection for open borders and his son Hunter’s sponsors in China would have made the coronavirus exponentially worse.
Later in the interview, Wallace told Hemmer, “I felt like I had gotten together all of the ingredients, I had baked this beautiful, delicious cake, and frankly, the president put his foot in it.”