NBC anchor Kristen Welker was awarded with a mostly favorable response from the public after she moderated the third 2020 presidential debate on Thursday between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden. Many viewers credited Welker for maintaining order in the debate, which was much more tame than the first presidential debate of the year last month.
The general consensus concluded that the moderator was unbiased, pressing both candidates on key concerns about their campaign and making sure they stay on topic while answering questions.
The former intern, who worked her way up the ranks to become the co-anchor of Weekend Today, became the second Black woman to moderate a presidential debate alone, BBC reported.
#Reminder: Only two black women have ever hosted a general election presidential debate.
Carol Simpson (1992) and Kristen Welker (2020). Wild to believe that there's a whole generation of voters (millennial and Gen-Z) who weren't alive during the 92' town hall. #debates
— Beatrice-Elizabeth Peterson (@MissBeaE) October 23, 2020
Superlatives such as "fantastic" and "impressive" came up often when people described the moderator's performance.
Kristen, you did a fantastic job last night!!
— Ming Leung (@Giants815) October 23, 2020
Contrary to Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who moderated the first debate and struggled to keep control of the candidates, Welker received praise for turning the tide.
.@kwelkernbc is the most memorable part of this debate…for all the right reasons. She never made it about herself, she controlled the conversation, and she followed up. Bravo, my friend!
— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) October 23, 2020
Wallace said he was jealous of Welker and he wished that "he had been able to take charge of the debate instead."
Chris Wallace: "First of all, I'm jealous. I would've liked to have been able to moderate that debate and get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions."
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 23, 2020
The Harvard University graduate, who began her career as a 21-year-old intern at NBC, expressed her excitement earlier this year when she was announced as co-anchor of Weekend Today.
"To have come here as an intern for the TODAY show, to shoot that reel — I looked so serious,'' the journalist told The Today Show. "To be terrified like that and then to come and sit at this desk, to sit next to my friend Peter Alexander every Saturday, it is the honor of a lifetime."
Welker's supporters, who have seen her grow through the years, were beaming with pride while watching her performance during the debate.
I’m beaming watching Kristen Welker. Such an amazing moment for her and for all who know of her hard work and dedication to journalism. Go girl!
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 23, 2020
Amid all the praise, there was also some constructive criticism for Welker after the debate. A few of the critics said the moderator could have taken more control of Trump, although that has been proven to be a tall task.
Yes, she’s trying but failing in terms of stopping him. She has let him get extra time and he’s used that to lie repeatedly. That’s what the mute button should be for.
— DLO (@Vegas1975) October 23, 2020
Some misinformed viewers believed the moderator has control of the mute button. But that role belonged to the debate committee.
She is not killing it…she is allowing the donald to run all over her, Joe and the entire process. Why? Why? Why? What happened to the mute?
— Greg Magario (@GregMagario) October 23, 2020
As he has done to many women who stand against him, the President slandered Welker last week.
She’s always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I’ll still play the game. The people know! How’s Steve Scully doing? https://t.co/uS3EWzfFPy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2020
During the debate, however, Trump suddenly shifted his tone.
"By the way, so far I respect very much the way you're handling this," he said.
As Blavity previously reported, Welker teamed up with NBC colleagues Andrea Mitchell, Rachel Maddow and Ashley Parker to moderate the Democratic primary last November. The Philadelphia native has also built a reputation for asking tough questions during White House press briefings. Among her many accolades, the NBC anchor won the Outstanding Journalism in Broadcast Television award this year.