News & Politics

Critics Are Grasping for Metaphors to Describe the Awfulness of Last Night’s Debate

Remember the reviews of the "Cats" movie? It's like that, but for Chris Wallace.

Image courtesy of C-SPAN.

It was only two months ago that Chris Wallace was being celebrated for his tough sit-down interview with President Trump. But after failing at the perhaps impossible task of bringing order to last night’s debate-stage chaos, the Fox News host is facing a deluge of criticism the likes of which we haven’t seen since movie reviewers watched Cats. The ten most savage takes, ranked:

1.Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (Twitter, via AP):

“Chris Wallace’s debate performance tonight is a great reminder that kindergarten teachers are underpaid.”

2.Former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (Twitter, via The Guardian):

“Chris Wallace is embarrassing, and trying to pretend that the problem isn’t 100% Trump.”

3. MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, no relation to Chris (AP):

“Chris Wallace did not act as a moderator, Donald Trump did not act as a debater,” Wallace told viewers. “Donald Trump was the abuser and Chris Wallace was among the abused.”

4. Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, CNN political commentator (Twitter, via The Guardian):

“Oh my God.

Chris Wallace has totally lost control of this thing.

He’s allowing Trump to behave like schoolyard bully, completely disrespecting the millions of Americans who tuned-in hoping to see a debate of ideas, and a plan to move America forward.”

5.Joe Scarborough, MSNBC host (via The Washington Post):

“what is Chris Wallace doing? He has no control over the debate. He asks a question and let’s Trump continue yelling. This is a disgrace.”

6.Oliver Darcy, CNN senior media reporter, in the Reliable Sources newsletter:

“Wallace does ultimately bear responsibility for the circus that aired on national TV. He lost control of the debate early, and failed to ever regain order. Wallace should have reprimanded Trump harshly and early. He should have made it clear that the interjections would not be tolerated. But instead, at times, it appeared as if Wallace were pleading with Trump to respect the forum like a parent would plead an out-of-control child to behave.”

7.Carl Bernstein, journalist (Twitter, via The Guardian):

“Chris Wallace needs to shut trump down and insist he follow rules…and , as moderator, enforce them…stop the debate for 60 secs and lay down the rules.”

There were also some particularly brutal roasts of the debate itself:

1.Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent (via Yahoo!):

“That was a shit show,” she told viewers. “And, you know, we’re on cable. We can say that. Apologies for being, maybe a little bit crude, but that is really the phrase I’m getting from people on both sides of the aisle on text and it’s the only phrase I can think of to really describe it.”

2.Jake Tapper, CNN anchor (via New York Daily News):

“That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” Tapper told viewers. “That was the worst debate I have ever seen. In fact, it wasn’t even a debate.”

3.John F. Harris, Politico founding editor, in his column:

“The proceeding was an epic spectacle, a new low in presidential politics, a new high watermark in national shame.

The stain will be visible for many years to come. It will serve as a reminder of the night the dam broke, and currents of contempt that have been building in public life for many years flooded the stage with tens of millions of Americans viewing President Donald Trump, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and an overwhelmed moderator on live television.”

And you know you’ve lost Washington when even RG3 is roasting you:

“Other countries watching this thinking it’s a Comedy Central Roast of America” -Robert Griffin III, (via Twitter)

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.