All eyes were on moderator NBC News' Kristen Welker during the final presidential debate.
After Fox News' Chris Wallace failed to maintain order during the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Welker was applauded for Thursday's controlled exchange.
Even Wallace admitted he was "jealous." During Fox News' post-debate coverage, Wallace said: "I would have liked to have been able to moderate that debate and to get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions.”
Veteran news anchor Dan Rather gave a "tip of the Stetson to Kristen Welker." He called her "a consummate pro on a big and difficult stage."
USA TODAY's Susan Page, who moderated the vice presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence earlier this month, applauded Welker on Twitter: "Kudos to @kwelkernbc for a job well done tonight, and a service to our nation."
Kudos to @kwelkernbc for a job well done tonight, and a service to our nation.
— Susan Page (@SusanPage) October 23, 2020
NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell called her colleague a "total pro. She is thoughtful, tough and in charge. A master class where voters were clearly well served."
New York Times reporter Nick Corasaniti said Welker was "flawless," adding that "this should be the tape future debate moderators study and seek to emulate."
Steve Schmidt, former adviser to Sen. John McCain, said Welker "put on a debate moderation clinic."
The Washington Post's Marissa J. Lang applauded Welker's trailblazing diversity. Welker is the first Black woman to moderate a presidential debate in nearly 30 years.
"I have been waiting for months to watch a woman of color moderate one of these presidential debates and, boy, @kwelkernbc did not disappoint," Lang tweeted. "Unflappable, smart and in control every step of the way. Expertly done."
The mute button was a hot topic
Many media pundits attributed the effectiveness of the debate to the implementation of muting: Each candidate's microphone was cut for two minutes as their rival answered initial questions.
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, who hosted Biden's town hall last week, agreed: "The mute did appear to work—at least for a time. But there were harsh clashes."
But some didn't think the candidates were muted enough.
"The mute button," joked comedian Amber Ruffin, showing a woman in spider webs.
— amber ruffin (@ambermruffin) October 23, 2020
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Trump's calmer demeanor was a topic of conversation following his frequent interruptions during the first presidential debate.
"Trump a lot more controlled, subdued tonight. More disciplined," tweeted Megyn Kelly, who served as a moderator for the Republican Party presidential debate on Aug. 6, 2015. In another tweet, she added: "Trump’s control here shows his interruptions/aggression in first debate was a strategy. He can control himself just fine." She thought "Trump won this debate, handily."
Katie Couric agreed that Trump was "less hyped up tonight."
But others questioned Trump's factuality. "Trump is leaving a lot of lies on the table tonight. The post-debate fact checks might be longer than the debate," MSNBC's Joy Reid said.
Mary L. Trump – the president's niece that who penned the tell-all book "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man" – tweeted, "The egregiousness of Donald's lies--and his being allowed to tell them unhindered--is breathtaking."
Biden took criticism, too
Bill O'Reilly said Biden said the "same old, same old" during the debate. He tweeted, "Biden is not saying anything new either. He did blame Donald Trump for all of the Covid deaths."
On the other side of the spectrum, NBC News contributor Dave Wasserman said, "This is a sharper, crisper Biden than in the first debate - and muted mics are probably a big reason."
During post-debate coverage, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl said "Joe Biden had, I believe, the best debate that he has had in 2020."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kristen Welker praised for ‘masterclass’ Trump-Biden debate moderation