Throughout a night of unsavory interruptions, ugly insults, and mostly unabated hostility, many watchers of the third and final presidential debate cast their vote for an unlikely person. Neither Republican candidate Donald Trump nor Democrat Hillary Clinton was the winner of the 90-minute showdown, in their view.
Instead, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News stole the show. (Sorry, not Ken Bone this time.)
Wallace kept the candidates on task during the debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. He asked weighty questions, pressed for clear answers when the contestants dodged or wavered, and supplied real-time fact checks—despite earlier saying that he did not plan to play “truth squad.”
Even Trump, who has repeatedly accused the media of bias, has called the man “fair.”
A number of people from both sides of the political aisle took to Twitter to praise Wallace’s performance.
“Chris Wallace emerges the strongest moderator,” wrote Soledad O’Brien, a journalist and founder of the production company Starfish Media. “Best, most interesting debate. Most heft. Issues.”
“Chris Wallace is the real winner of this debate,” said Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, the Republican Senator and onetime presidential contender. “America is the loser. At least this one was substantive and stayed on topic.”
“Chris Wallace was the only unbiased moderator of all four,” wrote Joshua Thifault, a director at Turning Point USA, a national student group right-wing activism. “Wow. About time.”
“He works for Fox but Chris Wallace deserves exceptional praise,” commented Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and onetime Democratic contender for the presidency. “He was tough and he was right down the middle fair. His Dad would be proud.”
“Congrats to Chris Wallace who didn’t make it about him,” said Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and onetime presidential hopeful. “Tough questions to both; let them actually debate. Good for him!”
Bret Stephens, a foreign affairs columnist and deputy editorial page editor at the Wall Street Journal, added: “Can we just elect Chris Wallace instead?”
The debate led to a surge of interest in Wallace. He became the most searched-for debate moderator on Google
Political partisans tend not to agree on much, but they do seem to agree on this point: Wallace was a class act.
Correction 10/31/16: An earlier version of this post misstated Joshua Thifault’s title. He is a director at Turning Point USA, not founder.