Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said he was “pissed off” that President Donald Trump’s family declined to wear face masks during the first presidential debate, which he said put him in a uniquely vulnerable position as moderator.
In an Instagram Live interview with Washington Post reporter Geoff Edgers last month, Wallace was asked about the Sept. 29 event, in which Trump’s guests were seen without their masks when seated, despite requirements that everyone wear them for the duration of the event.
“I was not fully conscious of the fact that they weren’t wearing masks until after the debate. I was really focused on preparing for the debate. But after I had the luxury to think about it, I was pissed off. That’s a technical phrase,” Wallace said, according to excerpts from the interview published on Sunday.
“I mean, did they think that the rules that applied to everybody else didn’t apply to them? I was upset when it turned out I’d been on the stage in a uniquely vulnerable position, and we found out 48 hours after the fact that the president had tested positive for the coronavirus. Everybody, except for the three of us on the stage, was supposed to wear a mask, and the first family came in wearing masks, took them off and sat there.”
Trump announced in the early hours of Oct. 2 that he and his wife, Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19. When he first began to experience symptoms is unclear. It’s also unclear if he tested negative before the debate. When asked about it at his NBC News town hall weeks later, Trump said, “Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t.”
Wallace was also asked what his late father, legendary broadcast journalist Mike Wallace, would have thought of the exceedingly polarized times we live in.
The Fox News host said his father wouldn’t have believed it.
He then referred to Trump’s penchant for comparing him to his father. Trump has called Chris Wallace a “Mike Wallace wannabe” and accused him of trying to be like his father but failing due to “lack of talent,” among other slights. Wallace has been far more critical of the president than most of his Fox News colleagues and hasn’t shied away from asking Trump tough questions.
“For some reason, the president thinks it’s going to get under my skin when he says, ‘Chris Wallace is no Mike Wallace,’ to which my response is, ‘One of us has a daddy issue, and it’s not me,’” Wallace said. “I think it’s revealing that he thinks that’s a tough line. I think my father would be shocked at how much things have changed and how degraded our political discourse is.”