The Commission on Presidential Debates has selected the moderators for the three presidential debates between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden as well as the single vice presidential debate.
The New York Times broke the news not long ago, and C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, moderator of the second debate, confirmed the news on his Twitter account.
Four years ago I had the honor of serving as the back-up moderator for the @debates 3 presidential and 1 VP. This year it is a privilege to moderate the 2nd debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. @realDonaldTrump @JoeBiden OCT 15 @cspan pic.twitter.com/lsQ1xxdEOk
— Steve Scully (@SteveScully) September 2, 2020
The debate that Scully will moderate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, will be a “town hall-style” forum.
Additionally, Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace will moderate the first debate on Sept. 29, to be held in Cleveland, and NBC News White House correspondent and Saturday Today co-host Kristen Welker will moderate the final one, on Oct. 22 in Nashville.
USA Today Washington, D.C., bureau chief Susan Page will moderate the vice presidential debate featuring California senator Kamala Harris and vice president Mike Pence on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City.
The president probably won’t be happy to hear that the commission chose these TV newsers to serve as moderators. After all, none were on his “moderator wish list” released last month.
For instance, the history between Trump and Chris Wallace is well-documented. Wallace has been the subject of Trump’s ire over the years. The Fox News Sunday anchor, widely considered the most skilled interviewer on TV news today, conducted an interview with the president in July that was widely praised by media figures, and made the president sweat, both literally and figuratively.
Wallace moderated a 2016 presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. That was the first time a Fox News anchor had been selected to moderate a general election debate.
Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott sent a memo to staff recognizing this achievement:
For Scully, who is Washington Journal host as well as C-SPAN political editor and senior ep, this is presidential debate No. 1.
The same is true for Welker. This is her first presidential debate as moderator. President Trump doesn’t seem to have as much disdain for Welker as he does for many of her colleagues. In the middle of a press briefing at the World Economic Forum early this year, Trump suddenly congratulated her on being named Saturday Today co-host.
“By the way, congratulations on your show. I think they made a very wise decision,” he told Welker.
She responded by saying, “Thank you very much. We invite you for an interview whenever you’re available.”
That interview has still yet to happen. Oct. 22 will likely be Welker’s best opportunity to ask those interview-style questions.