After Tuesday’s chaotic presidential debate, in which President Trump repeatedly ignored the ground rules, his supporters turned their anger on Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who served as the debate’s moderator, accusing him of being biased against the president.
Posts attacking Mr. Wallace dominated conservative social media on Wednesday and Thursday. One meme, which got more than a million interactions on Facebook after the president shared it, depicted Mr. Trump taking on both Mr. Wallace and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, in a Street Fighter-style two-on-one brawl.
Another meme, shared by the conservative influencers the Hodgetwins, depicted Mr. Wallace as Mr. Biden’s knight in shining armor.
Other conservatives tried to paint Mr. Wallace as a Trump hater in disguise, pointing out that he is a registered Democrat. This is true. Mr. Wallace has described himself as “independent,” and has said he registered as a Democrat because “where I live, in Washington, D.C., the only elections that count are the Democratic primaries.”
But other claims about Mr. Wallace were not true, such as a rumor that circulated on WeChat, the Chinese messaging app, that claimed he was “fired” from moderating any future debates. Some users also shared an image that was falsely labeled as showing Mr. Wallace with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and accused sex trafficker. (The photo actually showed Mr. Wallace with the actor George Clooney, a vocal liberal with whom he is friendly.)
The right-wing attacks have not stopped at Mr. Wallace. Conservatives have also begun casting doubts about the fairness of the second presidential debate, which is scheduled for Oct. 15 and is slated to be moderated by Steve Scully, a longtime C-SPAN political editor and host.
One right-wing meme accused Mr. Scully of being connected to the “deep state.” Other conservatives referred to him as a former Biden intern, or said he and Mr. Biden had gone to college together. (They did not go to college together, although Mr. Scully did intern with Mr. Biden’s Senate office while an undergraduate at American University. He also was an intern for Senator Edward M. Kennedy.)
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, called the choice of moderator “NUTS,” and proposed having future debates moderated by teams of one Republican and one Democrat.
Pro-Trump partisans also began digging for evidence that the Commission on Presidential Debates, the bipartisan organization that sponsors the debates, was biased against Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has complained about the commission in the past, calling it “very biased” and saying it is “stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers.” (The group’s leadership consists of both Democrats and Republicans.)
Those claims have been renewed after Tuesday’s debate. On Thursday, supporters of QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory, began posting unfounded rumors about members of the debate commission, and pointing out that President Barack Obama is an honorary co-chair. (He is, as are former presidents from both parties, including George W. Bush.) Q, the pseudonymous message board poster whose posts fuel the theory, also weighed in, calling the commission’s choice of Mr. Scully as a debate moderator evidence of a “rigged system.”
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