News and Commentary

Presidential Debate Moderators Announced — CNN Gets Big-Time Snub

Fox News' Chris Wallace, C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, and NBC's Kristen Welker picked by commission
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace quiets the audience during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace will finally get his chance to ask a few questions to Joe Biden.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has announced the moderators for the three upcoming presidential debates, as well as one vice presidential debate.

Fox is in while CNN is out.

Wallace will moderate the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Sept. 29. The second, a town-hall debate, will be moderated by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully in Miami on Oct. 15. And the final  debate will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC and will take place in Nashville on Oct. 22.

For the one vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), USA Today’s Susan Page will moderate the event, which will take place in Salt Lake City on Oct. 7.

“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,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., Dorothy S. Ridings and Kenneth Wollack, co-chairs of the non-partisan CPD said in a statement.

Wallace expressed frustration last month, saying Biden “continues to lead with what I’ll call the basement strategy. I don’t think you can hide from now until Election Day. I just I just don’t think it’s possible.” He also said it was “the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen” — and he’s been covering politics a long time.

But Wallace has also attacked President Trump, saying in December that he believes Trump “is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Scully, long considered a fair and balanced journalist among his peers, once worked as an intern for Biden.

“Scully received an undergraduate degree with honors in communication and political science from American University in Washington, D.C.,” his Wikipedia entry says. “During his degree he completed a study abroad program at the University of Copenhagen, served as an intern with Senator Joe Biden [5], and in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s media affairs office.”

Here’s the format for each debate as announced by the CPD:

First presidential debate

The debate will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.

The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Vice presidential debate

The debate will be divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Second presidential debate

The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the questions will be posed by citizens from the South Florida area. The candidates will have two minutes to respond to each question and there will be an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate further discussion. The town meeting participants will be uncommitted voters selected under the supervision of Dr. Frank Newport, Senior Scientist, Gallup.

Third presidential debate

The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate.

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