‘We Need To Move On’: Welker Keeps Debate On Track After Week Of Trump Attacks

Moderator, NBC News anchor, Kristen Welker is seen during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. (Photo by JIM BOURG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JIM BOURG/POOL/A... Moderator, NBC News anchor, Kristen Welker is seen during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. (Photo by JIM BOURG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JIM BOURG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker was widely praised for her performance moderating the final presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden Thursday, following a week of Trump waging attacks against her.

Welker, who is the first Black woman to moderate a general-election presidential debate since Carole Simpson of ABC in 1992, was targeted by Trump in the days leading up to her moderation duties. The President repeatedly accused Welker of being “a radical left Democrat or whatever she is” following a New York Post article claiming that the White House correspondent has “deep Democratic ties.” (She doesn’t.)

Just hours before the debate, Trump kept up the assault on Welker in a tweet. The President wrote that Welker is “far worse” than the “bias, hatred and rudeness” of CBS and “60 Minutes,” in light of Trump reportedly walking out on his solo interview with anchor Lesley Stahl over her tough questioning.

However, Welker kept her composure throughout the night as she asked pointed questions to both candidates and cut in as soon as their remarks deviated from the debate topic at hand by telling them: “We need to move on.”

Even Trump himself came around and briefly praised Welker.

“By the way, so far, I respect very much the way you’re handling this, I have to say,” Trump said.

Some examples that earned Welker high praise included when Trump criticized the moderator as he blasted Biden for his position on fracking. After the President told Welker that “you never asked that question,” she responded “we have a number of topics, we’re going to get to it.” As soon as Trump hit back by preparing to attack Biden for “socialized medicine,” Welker gave the floor to Biden for his response.

When Welker pressed Trump on his administration’s family separation policy that separated more than 4,000 children from their parents at the border and what he will do to reunite families affected by it, Trump attempted to deflect by bringing up an images of “horrible cages.” But Welker pressed him again about whether he has a plan to reunite the children with their parents, to which Trump replied “yes, we’re trying very hard.”

Segueing into the final question of the night, Welker halted Trump’s rant accusing Biden of setting out to “destroy the oil industry.” After Welker gave Biden time to respond — which he did by ripping Trump for taking “everything out of context” — Trump attempted to butt in by asking if the former VP is “going to get China to do it.” Welker didn’t let Trump get away with his interjection, however, as she replied “no, we’re finished” before moving onto the final question about Trump’s Inauguration Day speech if he wins re-election.

Throughout and after the debate, Welker was roundly praised by other members of the press. Even Chris Wallace, who moderated last month’s disastrous debate, couldn’t help but express envy for the debate that Welker solidly moderated.

Shortly after the debate wrapped up, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams said “somebody owes our colleague Kristen Welker an apology,” referring to Trump’s weeklong attacks against her. Fellow MSNBC host Rachel Maddow agreed with Williams, saying that “she’s owed an apology by the President, who attacked her over and over and over again heading into this event tonight.”

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: