30/09/2020 12:57 AM AEST | Updated 08/10/2020 5:35 AM AEDT

Who Is Chris Wallace, The Moderator Of The First US Presidential Debate

Despite working for the pro-Trump Fox News network, Chris Wallace has a reputation as a straight shooter.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden will meet on the debate stage for the first time Wednesday morning (11am AEST) in Cleveland, Ohio.

For millions of voters in the United States it will be their first opportunity to compare the two candidates on national television for 90 minutes.

In his first formal debate since taking office, Trump has a lot to answer for, and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News will be the man asking the questions.

Just five weeks before Election Day, with early voting already unfolding in some states, here’s what you need to know about Chris Wallace and the first presidential debate.

Chris Wallace of Fox News speaks as Donald Trump and Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate.

Who is Chris Wallace?

Despite working for pro-Trump Fox News, Chris Wallace has a reputation as a straight shooter and is known for his tough interviewing style.

Wallace, 72, moderated a presidential debate in 2016 between Trump and Hillary Clinton — becoming the first Fox News journalist to do so — favouring direct questions to get the candidates talking.

He said before the 2016 debate that he did not believe it is his job “to be a truth squad,” and he largely stayed away from interjecting to fact-check the candidates, according to The Associated Press.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
US presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace also moderated a debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016.

His performance in 2016 won support from both Democrats and Republicans, but also among journalists: “Chris Wallace is the real winner of this debate”, Meghan McCain, the daughter of late Republican senator John McCain, said on Twitter.

As early as 1975, Wallace moderated one of the very first American political broadcasts, Meet the Press on NBC News. He then became the White House correspondent for ABC News.

Wallace has hosted Fox News Sunday for almost 20 years, interviewing former president Barack Obama, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Trump.

What has Trump said about Chris Wallace?

Ahead of the debate, Democrats have demanded that Wallace correct Trump when he makes false claims. But Wallace, whom Trump has called “nasty and obnoxious,” said he would not perform a fact-checking function.

John Geer, an expert on voter opinion at Vanderbilt University, wonders if Trump will react poorly to sharp or unfriendly queries from Wallace. “Will Trump have a tough time answering non-softball questions?” Geer said, per Reuters.

In 2015, Trump emerged annoyed from a debate between Republican presidential candidates: “The great Mike Wallace [the father of Chris Wallace] covered me in a much more professional manner than his son! Mike was a real pro!”, Trump tweeted. 


What debate topics have been selected by Chris Wallace?

The format for Tuesday’s debate (11am AEST Wednesday) consists of six 15-minute segments, scheduled to focus on the following topics, selected by Wallace: “The Trump and Biden Records,” “The Supreme Court,” “COVID-19,” “The Economy,” “Race and Violence in our Cities” and “The Integrity of the Election.”

What is the presidential debate format?

Each candidate will be given two minutes to respond to a question from the moderator opening the segment. Candidates will then be able to respond to each other, and Wallace will use the rest of the 15-minute period to discuss the topic further.

5 Chris Wallace Fox News highlights

What time does the US presidential debate start?

The debate will start at 9pm ET on Tuesday in America, or 11am on Wednesday for Victoria, ACT, New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland, 10.30am in South Australia and NT, and 9am in Western Australia.

How do I watch the debate in Australia?

Channel 9, ABC News 24 and SBS will broadcast and stream the debate live from 11am AEST, Wednesday, September 30.

How long will the debate go for?

90 minutes.

For live polling and the latest news follow HuffPost Australia’s full coverage of the US election

 With files from The Associated Press and Reuters.