As the curtains came down on the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, it was the moderator Kristen Welker who walked away with widespread praise for keeping things under control.
Viewers compared Thursday night’s display to the first debate last month, when proceedings were far more chaotic and critics said the candidates’ answers lacked substance.
Welker’s conduct of the debate was praised by Fox News’ own Chris Wallace, who chaired the first debate, and who said he was jealous of the addition of a mute button to prevent interruptions.
During Thursday’s slightly overrunning 90-minute event, Welker, who is NBC’s White House correspondent, reminded the candidates about having an uninterrupted two minutes in every segment while also allowing them to engage in follow-up exchanges without letting things spiral out of control. She asked her own follow-up questions, and was praised for interjecting when required.
Welker was hailed on social media by many journalists, including veteran anchor Dan Rather who tweeted, “A tip of the Stetson to Kristen Welker. A consummate pro on a big and difficult stage.”
Some of her peers like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow suggested Mr Trump owes Welker an apology for repeated attacks in the run-up to this debate.
After the first debate debacle and cancellation of the second debate, the final leg was conducted under an intense spotlight. To avoid a repeat of the chaos in the first debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates had announced that the organiser will be able to mute the candidates’ microphones to allow them two minutes of uninterrupted time per segment.
— The Recount (@therecount) October 23, 2020
Following this, Mr Trump had said that he will participate in the debate but added “it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it’s very unfair that again we have an anchor who’s totally biased.”
Yet as he left the stage, even Mr Trump himself appeared to pass a compliment to Welker for her “professional” handling of proceedings.