If Chris Wallace Had Followed the Debate Rules…

After the first time watching the Presidential Debate, I believed, as most of America did, that President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden did an awful lot of interrupting, but the President did far more. This is what Chris Wallace told them and us, the audience. This is what it seemed like, if we weren’t carefully following the debate format, with timers in hand. This first paragraph may upset you, because you believe what you saw “with your own eyes” and heard “with your own ears.” Sadly, even your eyes and ears can be manipulated through the way a debate is managed and filmed. I hope that, no matter your political preference, you would want a fair and accurately represented debate for both parties.

I hope that, no matter your political preference, you would want a fair and accurately represented debate for both parties.

I have now watched the debate three times, making note of times, following the debate format carefully. I created a spreadsheet with every word uttered and spoken in the debate, by each person, in 15 second chunks. This took hours of analysis. I did this because I want to know the truth. What really happened, vs. what Chris Wallace, and the intentional camera angles (that’s another subject) tried to make us believe? (If you are interested in getting a copy of my debate spreadsheet, donate at least $5 to this site and make sure I have your email address.)

As a former NCFCA debate mom who has judged many debate rounds (both Team Policy and Lincoln Douglas), I felt equipped to use my debate-flowing skills and follow what these men were saying. As a mom who has kept time for debates, and carefully followed the debate format, I was appalled at the poor job that Chris Wallace did in moderating this debate.

The Rules, Laid Out by Chris Wallace for Both Candidates, Which He, Himself Did Not Follow

At the beginning of the debate, Mr. Wallace stated the debate format rules at the beginning:

“This debate is sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The Commission has designed the format, six roughly 15 minute segments with two minute answers from each candidate to the first question, then open discussion for the rest of each segment. Both campaigns have agreed to these rules.”

If Mr. Wallace had followed these rules, the entire debate should have consisted of six total questions, but he asked many more.

Also, “Open Discussion” implies that the candidates would be conversing back and forth, without the inclusion of any questions, commentary or debating from the moderator, unless the candidates were breaking the rules. Unfortunately, there were not any rules laid out for this Open Discussion time. I assumed the candidates would be sharing this Open Discussion time equally.

How Chris Wallace Broke the Rules and Failed as a Moderator

Don’t get me wrong here. Both candidates did interrupt each other. In fact, they did this so often, that I felt nauseated watching the debate a third time through. Their behavior was deplorable, to use Hillary Clinton’s word. I believe that these men were disrespectful and such behavior has no place in the high and honorable position of presidency. Still, Chris Wallace added to the ugliness of the night by not doing the things a moderator should.

  1. He Didn’t Tell the Candidates When Their Time Started and Ended

This is the basic job of the moderator: set the timer and tell the candidates who is supposed to be talking during each section. Otherwise, it appeared as though one person was interrupting another when it was really still their time to speak. This happened so often that I really wonder if Chris Wallace did it intentionally.

As a debate mom, we would set the timers and speak loud and clear “You have eight minutes” or “five minutes” depending on the round. We would give hand signals to the debaters as their time went down, so that they knew how much time they had left. The timer would go off when the time was done, and everyone in the room knew it was time for the speaker to stop talking. If the speaker didn’t stop, points were taken away from their score as a penalty.

Chris Wallace did not state clearly whose time it was or when their time had ended. People called this debate a “train wreck,” and I agree–but a train cannot run smoothly where there is no track. Chris Wallace, as the moderator, was to provide the track–the structure throughout the debate–and he failed to do so.

Chris Wallace did not state clearly whose time it was or when their time had ended. People called this debate a “train wreck,” and I agree–but a train cannot run smoothly where there is no track. Chris Wallace, as the moderator, was to provide the track–the structure throughout the debate–and he failed to do so.

2. He Didn’t Allow Equal Time for Each Candidate for Each Question

This can be frustrating to a speaker, because they have things they want to say. When a speaker feels as though the moderator is disrespecting their time and treating them unfairly, the speaker will often begin to butt in when it is not his turn, just to make up for the time he should have had according to the rules.

Sometimes a candidate didn’t get a chance to answer a question at all. Often, he would cut off President Trump’s time early and say that it was Vice President Biden’s turn to speak.

3. He Asked Too Many Questions

If he followed the rules set up by the Commission on Presidential Debates, he would have asked one single question, allowed each candidate two minutes of uninterrupted time, and then he would have allowed for open dialogue.

Instead, Mr. Wallace asked a question, sometimes would interrupt and ask another question or two in the middle of a candidate’s two minutes to speak, would ask a different question to the next candidate, and then he would ask more questions to JB during “Open Discussion,” and would not allow for equal time for DT to answer these new questions. I was not aware, from the rules, that “Open Discussion” included more questions from Chris Wallace. I’m not sure if the candidates were clear on this, either.

4. “Open Discussion” is Bound to Be a Mess

Our student debaters in NCFCA were not ever given “Open Discussion” time. After one speaker presented a speech, a member from the other team had two minutes to ask questions. Then the questioner would sit down, formulate a quick rebuttal speech in their allotted time, and then stand to present it.

The kids, ages 12-18, who debated in the NCFCA tournaments were more professional and more impressive than President Trump or Vice President Biden. And, I believe the clear structure added to their appearance of professionalism.

“Open Discussion” allows for the “squeaky wheel,” the loudest, most aggressive speaker in the room, to dominate the time. Or, as often happened in this debate, it allows for the candidate who the moderator favors to have more speaking time, while the other candidate can only “interrupt” to get a word in. Chris Wallace typically made it appear as though the “Open Discussion” time was Vice President Joe Biden’s time by asking him more questions, and by stating “Let him speak” when the President tried to say anything. “Open Discussion” should have been equal, and no one candidate should have been presented more questions during that time period.

Ultimately, “Open Discussion” forces the candidates to interrupt each other just to get a word in. There is no way to sound respectful when one candidate is hogging the whole time period. And, how long the time period was going to be, nobody knew. Chris Wallace would decide on a whim to stop one candidate (Perhaps because he did not want America to hear what they were saying?). He clearly was not using timers to decide when it was each candidate’s turn to speak during these “Open Discussions.” I think he did them a great disservice and made both men look bad because of his poor job as a moderator.

What Really Happened in this Debate?

After watching the debate three times through and taking careful notes, I have analyzed who said what and when, and whose time period it was to be speaking (even if Chris Wallace did not announce it). I have broken it all down for you to see.

Assumptions I Made:

  1. If Chris Wallace asked a question, each candidate should have 2 uninterrupted minutes to respond, per the rules.
  2. I only counted interruptions during the other candidate’s speaking time or when Mr. Wallace was asking a question.
  3. I did not count interruptions during “Open Discussion,” because, without clear structure, the time lends itself to interrupting. It is difficult to decipher who was interrupting who during these time periods.
  4. I counted laughing as interrupting. It is rude and bully-like, just as bully-like as talking over someone.

A Note on Word Counts

My word counts are pretty accurate but not exact. I copied every word spoken during a segment, directly from my spreadsheet (which is divided into 15 second increments) and then pasted it into a Google Doc and did a word count. I put numbers “1 through sometimes 9” before words or phrases so I could show who spoke first, second, third, etc., during a 15 second chunk. These numbers are included in the word count, even though the candidates did not speak them, only because I did not take the time to remove each of these when I counted words. I also included some brackets, “[uttered something]” and “[laughed],” and these are totaled in with the word counts. While these exact phrases were not spoken by the candidates, I do think that their quiet utters and their laughing should be included in the word count for a segment.

Just a reminder, if you are interested in getting a copy of my debate spreadsheet, donate at least $5 to this site and make sure I have your email address.

Also, based on several samples, I have learned that the three men speak at different paces. I will note, at the end, the total word count, divided by their average speaking speed, to estimate how much talk time each man had.

President Trump spoke an average of 202 words per minute.
Vice Preside Biden spoke an average of 167 words per minute.
Chris Wallace spoke an average of 150 words per minute.

Keep this in mind when you see that President Trump had a higher word count in a segment, as was often the case, because this does not mean that he had more time.

For the Sake of Space, I have Used Initials

I don’t mean any disrespect by calling President Donald Trump “DT” and Vice President Joe Biden “JB,” I have only attempted to save space and make the details easy to read.

The Debate, Play By Play

Below, I share what Should Have Happened and What Actually Happened because of Chris Wallace’s poor job as a moderator. See how his choices directly impacted Americans’ view of each of these men and how they conducted themselves.

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 1, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 132
DT: 0
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 0

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 1, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:20
WORD COUNTS
CW: 0
DT: 264
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 1
CW: 0

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 1, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 2:05
WORD COUNTS
CW: 0
DT: 0
JB: 359
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
CW: 0

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 1, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 25 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 27 seconds

WORD COUNTS
CW: 88
DT: 368
JB: 33
INTERRUPTIONS
Several (JB first)
CW (of DT): 3
CW (of JB): 1

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 2 CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
Technically, if Chris Wallace had played by the rules, there should not have been any more questions. in Segment 1. This should have been Open Discussion time for the candidates. Since he did ask another question, I am assuming that each candidate should have had 2 minutes uninterrupted to answer his new question. Thus, the Question rules apply:
Chris Wallace should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
CW not only asked a question, but also attacked and debated DT. Moderators should not show any partiality, but CW began to show it just ten minutes into the debate by using absolutes like “President Trump, you have never ____.” He didn’t use any such phrases with JB in the entire debate. These kinds of statements put the speaker in a defensive mode.
WORD COUNTS
CW: 236
DT: 111
JB: 12
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 15
JB: 6

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 2, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW asked another question, just 30 seconds into DT’s 2 minute time. At 45 seconds in, CW said it was Open Discussion time and then asked JB a question (!?).
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 10 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 113
DT: 238
JB: 165
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 20
CW: 10

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 2, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW did not announce that JB’s time had started. In fact, just before this, he stated that it was Open Discussion time, but according to the rules and the timer, it would have been JB’s time.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 11 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 45
DT: 218
JB: 269
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 28
CW: 1

SEGMENT 1 QUESTION 2, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW never announced that it was Open Discussion time. He behaved as though it was still JB’s time and asked two more questions of JB.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 9 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 20 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 158
DT: 158
JB: 168
INTERRUPTIONS
Several
CW (of DT): 3
CW (of JB): 1

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 1, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 165
DT: 53
JB: 47
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 4
JB: 6

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 1, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW clearly stated that JB had 2 minutes and then only interrupted when DT interrupted. Allowed JB to speak freely without further questions.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:56
WORD COUNTS
CW: 39
DT: 21
JB: 367
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 5
CW: 0

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 1, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: Interrupted JB once. THEN, before DT’s time was up, interrupted DT and said “Sir, you made a point. You made a point, let him answer it.” Technically it was still in DT’s 2 min and JB shouldn’t have been speaking.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 42 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 38
DT: 413
JB: 45
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 9
CW: 3

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 1, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: Never announced that it was Open Discussion time. Behaved as though it was still JB’s time.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 0 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 23 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 8
DT: 33
JB: 191
INTERRUPTIONS
Several
CW (of DT): 2
CW (of JB): 0

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 2, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
Technically, if Chris Wallace had played by the rules, there should not have been any more questions. in Segment 2. This should have been Open Discussion time for the candidates. Since he did ask another question, I am assuming that each candidate should have had 2 minutes uninterrupted to answer his new question. Thus, the Question rules apply:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 108
DT: 0
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 0

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 2, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: Debated with DT 3 times. Did not tell JB to give DT his 2 minutes when JB interrupted. Took one of JB’s questions and said he wanted DT to answer it, during DT’s 2 minutes.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 14 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 97
DT: 217
JB: 128
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 9
CW: 6

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 2, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: Asked JB a separate question. Did not clearly state it was JB’s 2 minutes. Cut the 2 minutes short by saying “Mr. President?”
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 29 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 35
DT: 24
JB: 211
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 4
CW: 3

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 2, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
Never announced that it was Open Discussion time. Asked another question of JBmaking it appear that DT was interrupting when he spoke.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 20 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 14 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 118
DT: 338
JB: 157
INTERRUPTIONS
Several
CW (of DT): 2
CW (of JB): 2

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 3, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
Technically, if Chris Wallace had played by the rules, there should not have been any more questions. in Segment 2. This should have been Open Discussion time for the candidates. Since he did ask another question, I am assuming that each candidate should have had 2 minutes uninterrupted to answer his new question. Thus, the Question rules apply:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 73
DT: 14
JB: 14
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 1
JB: 3

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 3, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: Cut off DT’s 2 minute time after less than 1 minute and ask JB to answer.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 7 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 12
DT: 100
JB: 25
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 4
CW: 2

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 3, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: This was technically still DT’s time to speak.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 13 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 35
DT: 37
JB: 70
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 7
CW: 4

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 3, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW Skipped Open Discussion and moved on to another question, stating there was only one minute left in the Segment.

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 4, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
Technically, if Chris Wallace had played by the rules, there should not have been any more questions. in Segment 2. This should have been Open Discussion time for the candidates. Since he did ask another question, I am assuming that each candidate should have had 2 minutes uninterrupted to answer his new question. Thus, the Question rules apply:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 100
DT: 37
JB: 1
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 5
JB: 1

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 4, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW interrupted and debated, cut off DT and then let JB talk after less than 45 seconds.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 11 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 43
DT: 84
JB: 49
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 2
CW: 5

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 4, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: This was technically still DT’s time to speak.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 19 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 24
DT: 49
JB: 81
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 4
CW: 2

SEGMENT 2 QUESTION 4, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW: Did not allow for any Open Discussion Time on this subject. He moved on to another question.

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 1, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 114
DT: 5
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 2
JB: 1

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 1, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW stopped DT after 1:44 and told him his two minutes was up and it was JB’s turn.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:44
WORD COUNTS
CW: 9
DT:365
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
CW: 1

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 1, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
This was technically still DT’s time to speak for 16 seconds. CW reminded JB of the question. Stopped JB after 2:07 to tell him his two minutes was up.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:31
WORD COUNTS
CW: 46
DT: 12
JB: 364
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 3
CW: 0

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 1, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended..
What Actually Happened:
CW was not planning to give Open Discussion. DT asked for a chance to respond.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 16 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 0 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 47
DT: 159
JB: 14
INTERRUPTIONS
CW (of DT): 5
CW (of JB): 0

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 2, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
Technically, if CW had played by the rules, there should not have been any more questions. in Segment 3. This should have been Open Discussion time for the candidates. Since he did ask another question, I am assuming that each candidate should have had 2 minutes uninterrupted to answer his new question. Thus, the Question rules apply:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 76
DT: 0
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 0

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 2, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW kept debating and asking DT questions. Interrupted his time at 1 minute 30 seconds.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 11 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 75
DT: 266
JB: 33
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 9
CW: 10

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 2, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW Interrupted his time at 53 seconds.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 23 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 8
DT: 40
JB: 123
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 4
CW: 1

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 2, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended. debating the candidates.
What Actually Happened:
CW was not going to allow time for Open Discussion. Kept cutting off DT to move on to another question.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 9 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 0 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 47
DT: 52
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
CW (of DT): 3
CW (of JB): 0

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 3, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
Technically, if CW had played by the rules, there should not have been any more questions. in Segment 3. This should have been Open Discussion time for the candidates. Since he did ask another question, I am assuming that each candidate should have had 2 minutes uninterrupted to answer his new question. Thus, the Question rules apply:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 113
DT: 4
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 2
JB: 0

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 3, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW interrupted and clarified the question once. Interrupted after one minute to ask DT a question.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 37 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 13
DT: 39
JB: 185
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 3
CW: 1

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 3, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW asked a new question. He asked JB to chime in during DT’s time twice, after 42 seconds and at 1 minute 38 seconds. When DT responded, it looked as though he was interrupting, but it was his 2 minute time period.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 19 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 54
DT: 255
JB: 185
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 18
CW (of DT): 4

SEGMENT 3 QUESTION 3, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW treated it as if it was JB’s time. Every time DT spoke, CW interrupted him and told him to let JB speak.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 18 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 9 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 161
DT: 346
JB: 391
INTERRUPTIONS
Several
CW (to DT): 30
CW (to JB): 0

Just a reminder, if you are interested in getting a copy of my debate spreadsheet, donate at least $5 to this site and make sure I have your email address.

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 1, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
CW explained that in DT’s uninterrupted moment, he would be able to talk about whatever he wanted, but he appealed to DT to stop interrupting and said that he had done more.
WORD COUNTS
CW: 231
DT: 24
JB: 1
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 5
JB: 1

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 1, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW allowed JB to speak for 1 minute 59 seconds without interruption. DT interrupted once.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:13
WORD COUNTS
CW: 7
DT: 4
JB: 356
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 1
CW: 0

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 1, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW allowed DT to speak the full 2 minutes without further questions and asked JB to stop interrupting.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:49
WORD COUNTS
CW: 17
DT: 400
JB: 9
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 2
CW: 1

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 1, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.

What Actually Happened:
CW did not allow any Open Discussion. and instead moved on to another question.

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 2, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
Technically, if CW had played by the rules, there should not have been any more questions. in Segment 4. This should have been Open Discussion time for the candidates. Since he did ask another question, I am assuming that each candidate should have had 2 minutes uninterrupted to answer his new question. Thus, the Question rules apply:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 55
DT: 0
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 0

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 2, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW cut JB’s time short.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:05
WORD COUNTS
CW: 5
DT: 13
JB: 210
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 1
CW: 1

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 2, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW did not give DT a chance to answer the same question JB was asked and instead asked two more questions, stating opinions as if they were fact. Interrupted and asked another question. After 55 seconds, asked JB to speak.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 30 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 78
DT: 203
JB: 15
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 3
CW: 1

SEGMENT 4 QUESTION 2, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW interrupted DT’s 2 minute time period and asked JB to speak. He, again, treated this Open Discussion time as though it was JB’s time to talk.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 18 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 54 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 33
DT: 144
JB: 265
INTERRUPTIONS
Several
CW (of DT): 4
CW (of JB): 1

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 1, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 77
DT: 9
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 1
JB: 0

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 1, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW allowed JB to speak for 29 seconds uninterrupted during DT’s time.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 18 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 7
DT: 171
JB: 137
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 11
CW: 2

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 1, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.

What Actually Happened:
CW asked a completely different question of JB. CW cut off JB’s time after 1 minute.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 40 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 27
DT: 81
JB: 156
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 8
CW: 2

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 1, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.

What Actually Happened:
CW did not allow any Open Discussion. and instead moved on to another question.

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 2, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 120
DT: 0
JB: 2
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 1

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 2, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW cut off JB’s time after 1 minute.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 18 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 62
DT: 75
JB: 166
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 7
CW: 4

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 2, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW asked DT a completely different question and would not allow him to answer the one he asked JB. CW laughed at the President of the United States for calling out the fact that CW was not following the rules of the debate and allowing each candidate a chance to answer the question. He joked “you know, if you want to switch seats.” Cut off DT’s speaking time after 45 seconds.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 8 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 109
DT: 158
JB: 65
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 10
CW: 9

SEGMENT 5 QUESTION 2, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.

What Actually Happened:
CW did not allow any Open Discussion. and instead moved on to another question.

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 1, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
CW gave a positive quote from JB, sounded like a campaign ad.
WORD COUNTS
CW: 67
DT: 0
JB: 0

INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 0

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 1, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW said “Time Sir,” for the first audible time in the entire debate! And he actually gave DT a full 2 minutes!
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 58 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 2
DT: 369
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 0
CW: 0

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 1, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW said he would give JB an extra 30 seconds because of DT interrupting. CW did not tell the candidates when JB’s time was up.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 41 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 70
DT: 90
JB: 305
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 6
CW: 0

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 1, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW did not clearly tell the candidates when JB’s time was up. He interrupted DT when he was asking questions about JB’s honesty and integrity when he was a VP. He did not provide equal speaking opportunity for each candidate.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 0
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 9 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 58
DT: 40
JB: 86
INTERRUPTIONS
Several
CW (to DT): 7
CW (to JB): 0

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 2, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 94
DT: 0
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 0

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 2, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW kept asking DT clarifying questions. He allowed DT’s time to go for about 3 minutes though.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 51 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 111
DT: 525
JB: 0
JB:INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 0
CW: 9

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 2, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW gave JB 2 minutes 15 seconds and then asked JB another question.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 2:07
WORD COUNTS
CW: 25
DT: 0
JB: 377
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
CW: 0

SEGMENT 6 QUESTION 2, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW treated the session as if it was still JB’s time to talk, thus making it look like DT was interrupting. When DT attempted to respond, CW cut him off.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 10 seconds
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 43 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 172
DT: 269
JB: 427
INTERRUPTIONS
Several
CW (of DT): 10
CW (of JB): 3

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 1, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 101
DT: 0
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
JB: 0

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 1, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
JB got a full 2 minutes uninterrupted.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 1:47
WORD COUNTS
CW: 0
DT: 0
JB: 382
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 0
CW: 0

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 1, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW allowed DT his full 2 minutes.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 2:03
WORD COUNTS
CW: 0
DT: 426
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 0
CW: 0

Just a reminder, if you are interested in getting a copy of my debate spreadsheet, donate at least $5 to this site and make sure I have your email address.

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 1, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW did not allow any Open Discussion. and instead moved on to another question.

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 2, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
WORD COUNTS
CW: 119
DT: 4
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 2
JB: 0

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 2, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW kept asking questions, allowed JB to interrupt and then cut DT’s time short at less than 1 minute.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 20 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 71
DT: 166
JB: 25
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 4
CW: 8

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 2, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW asked a second question and interrupted JB’s time after a minute and a half.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 34 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 94
DT: 23
JB: 171
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 4
CW: 2

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 2, OPEN DISCUSSION

What Should Have Happened:
DT and JB should have had equal time to speak without interruption. CW should not have been asking any other questions or debating the candidates. He should have set a timer and told the candidates clearly when the time began and ended.

What Actually Happened:
CW did not allow any Open Discussion. and instead moved on to another question.

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 3, CHRIS WALLACE

What Should Have Happened:
CW should have asked a question, without accusing or debating either candidate. The candidates should have remained quiet until he finished his question.
What Actually Happened:
DT behaved as though it was Open Discussion as it should have been.
WORD COUNTS
CW: 178
DT: 41
JB: 12
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 7
JB: 4

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 3, PRESIDENT TRUMP

What Should Have Happened:
DT should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or JB. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW interrupted, debated and kept asking questions of DT. He cut off DT’s time and asked JB a question after less than 1 minute.
DT Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 22 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 70
DT: 207
JB: 0
INTERRUPTIONS
JB: 0
CW: 12

SEGMENT 7 QUESTION 3, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN

What Should Have Happened:
JB should have been given 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time without any further questions or debate from either CW or DT. CW should have set a timer and clearly stated when the time began and ended.
What Actually Happened:
CW cut off JB at about 1 minute 30 seconds.
JB Longest Period of Uninterrupted Speaking Time: 37 seconds
WORD COUNTS
CW: 15
DT: 20
JB: 195
INTERRUPTIONS
DT: 3
CW: 0

So What Was the Final Score?

I was curious to see, in the end, what this all amounted to. Clearly, the data I provided in this post does not determine the “Winner” of the debate (we would have to analyze the content for that), but it does show that Chris Wallace had an agenda.

Watch soon, I will be creating images for this post to share on social media, summing up the results.

4 thoughts on “If Chris Wallace Had Followed the Debate Rules…

  1. Hello,
    Interesting read, but I feel you missed one of the most critical aspects of language that can impact the trajectory of a conversation–tonal disruption. This occurs when a person interrupts not with a polite, “excuse me” but rather with brute tone that effectively forces the other person to delay their planned response, and instead shift course to deal with the interruption. Over time, these begin to impact the informal cues that guide conversation, leading to an eventual cessation of the conversation. Now, your Segment Question 1, open discussion shows an interesting bias of yours right away. You correctly noted that Biden had some polite, 3-10 word interruptions, and the content was to correct DT on misinterpretations of Biden’s policy. Trump was not touting his policy, per see. Rather, he was trying to denigrate Biden’s policy by injecting forceful “fear” words that trigger his base: socialism, freedom of choice, limited private insurance. Then, when it was JB’s turn, he began to outline his plan but that is when DT had a very significant tonal disruption and essentially talked all over Biden. Again, not describing his plan or the Republican Plan. Instead he presented a misrepresentation of Biden without letting JB the opportunity to correct. I find it interesting that you make no note of this in your summary. It is wonderful to be so inquisitive, but there is a very scientific way to support your method. You have 2 coders listen to the same content, and then afterward they compare against each other. For any discrepancies between the two, they both review the content in question together, along with a neutral party, to arbitrate and reconcile the final answer. If there is still disagreement, then that it specifically highlighted in the presentation of the findings so reviewers can incorporate that information into their evaluation of your work. All in all, you raise many great points about CW, but I’m not sure we can put all the blame on him. We don’t know if he wanted to use timers so that candidates could see what time they have or who has the “floor” according to Robert’s Rule of Order. Bottom line—it was an embarrassment for our country. In the next debate, I want to hear DT’s plans and more specifics on JB’s plans. And no interruptions are allowed by either candidate

    • Thank you for the response. I am not sure you can call Biden OR Trump’s behavior “polite” in that debate. Nobody was polite. Biden did not lay out much of his plan at all in this debate, and neither did Harris in hers. The majority of their speaking time was used to attack the current administration. After analyzing both debates carefully, I think I can sum up their campaign points as “We’re not Trump,” and that’s pretty much all they’re running on. Taxes will be higher for everyone if they repeal the Trump tax cuts, there is no way to make that sound prettier except with lies. Public college will be “free,” (out of our tax dollars, cha-ching). They will welcome “Made in China” products again and remove Trump’s tariffs, encouraging the employment off-shore slave-labor to manufacture our goods. They will make (unconstitutional) national mandates for a virus with a 99% recovery rate. But, they’re not Trump. That’s really all they said.
      I would personally like to see more policy outlined from both sides. I didn’t feel like Chris Wallace or Susan Page asked questions that would lead to policy outlines, though. Hopefully the next debate is better, over all.

    • Hi Paul. This article from the Washington Post is flat-out lying. Yes, if you say that Trump was interrupting during his own speaking moments, you might say he interrupted more. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that when he interrupted Biden in his own 2 minute “uninterrupted” opportunities to speak that it was actually interrupting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.