Kristen Welker earns bipartisan praise as U.S presidential debate moderator
TORONTO -- After the first U.S. presidential debate that inspired organizers to introduce a mute button, NBC reporter Kristen Welker took over the reins in what many viewers feared would be another chaotic night of shouting and cross-talk.
Instead, the debate largely stayed on track as Welker kept the candidates on topic, earning the seasoned White House reporter a rare moment of bipartisan praise.
“So far @kwelkernbc doing a nice job,” tweeted former Fox News host Megyn Kelly in the first half of the debate, who later praised Welker for questioning Biden about allegations regarding his son Hunter’s relationship with Ukraine.
“Kristen Welker is putting on a master class in how to moderate a presidential debate,” tweeted Washington Post White House bureau chief Philip Rucker.
“A tip of the Stetson to Kristen Welker,” tweeted veteran U.S. news anchor Dan Rather. “A consummate pro on a big and difficult stage.”
Welker has been a White House reporter with NBC since 2011 and played a prominent role in the network’s coverage during the 2016 presidential election. In January, she was promoted to co-anchor of “Weekend Today,” NBC’s weekend morning show.
In September, Welker was honoured with the award for “Outstanding Journalism in Broadcast Television” at the Washington Women in Journalism Awards.
U.S. President Donald Trump previously congratulated Welker on her new job with “Weekend Today” back in January, saying the NBC made a “very wise decision” in hiring her, but has since changed his tune, tweeting on Saturday that she has “always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters.”
During a rally in Arizona on Monday, Trump called her a “radical Democrat” who’s “been screaming questions at me for a long time.”
Welker was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., to a white father and Black mother. Her mother was the first African-American president at Penn State University’s women's student association.
On Thursday, she became the second Black woman to moderate a presidential debate.
Welker has previously said it was her upbringing that inspired her to become a journalist.
"Growing up as a biracial child, the idea of helping people of different races and backgrounds better communicate inspired me to become a journalist," she said in a profile on Black journalists in Glamour Magazine back in June.
Welker was among four debate moderators for a U.S. Democratic debate in November 2019, where she was tasked with asking the 10 remaining candidates about health care, race and housing.
This time around, Welker selected six topics: fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.