Fox Hosts Do the Pre-Debate Media Circuit

Answering questions before they ask them.

Come 9:00 p.m., it will be Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace who will be asking questions of the 10 candidates who have made it to the primetime debate, but in the days leading up to tonight, it is the three hosts have been answering questions.

In interviews with publications that included The New York Times, Politico, The Washington Post, and this blog, the debate hosts opened up about how they’ve been preparing.

Kelly and Wallace in Politico, on how they will try to elicit something other than boilerplate from candidates:

“One of the biggest challenges we face is that, unlike on our respective shows where you can interrupt the candidate if he strays, there are rules for these debates and you have to respect them unless you want to restart the clock,” Kelly said. “Having said that, we do our best. We try to anticipate the talking points that they’ve used in the past.”

Wallace added: “One advantage we do have in a debate is we can get the candidates to engage with each other. Sometimes that’s a good way to get them off their talking points.”

From a Washington Post profile, Wallace on Donald Trump going after the Jeb Bush jugular:

“Trump, you know he wants to go after people,” Wallace said. “And you can be sure there will be a moment — whether it’s in my questioning or Bret’s or Megyn’s, where somebody is going to give him a fat juicy ball right in there so he can go after Bush and see how he responds to it. It’s sort of like playing three-dimensional checkers.”

From the New York Times, Baier on upping the drama of running down the clock on candidates:

“You could make it about synergy in that arena: Use the very same buzzer that LeBron James hears on the court when the shot clock runs out,” said Mr. Baier, who had come up with the idea over dinner Tuesday night at a local bistro. (“I was inspired,” he said with a smile, “by a beer.”)

And Kelly on how to avoid being part of the story:

We have very tough, pointed questions for these guys, but I am not trying to hit any home runs. I only want to advance the debate about the candidates. If we can flesh out some of the issues and some of their character and help the audience have a better feeling for who they are — as men and as candidates — then I’ve done my job.

In a Q&A with the Northeast Ohio Media Group, Baier on how the hosts plan to give candidates equal time:

I want to come out of it where the candidates feel like they had an equal playing field, they had equal time. And that takes a lot of juggling when you’re dealing with follow-ups and candidates interacting. We’re trying to measure all of that. So, someone is in my ear all the time from the booth saying you know, “We need to balance this out with candidate X.”