The NBC News White House correspondent, who has experience dealing with Joe Biden and President Trump covering the Obama and Trump administrations, will become the second Black woman to moderate a presidential debate on Thursday. Former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson was the first, moderating the second debate between incumbent George H.W. Bush and challengers Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in 1992. “She made a point of taking me to dinner where she shared some of her insights with me,” Welker said of Simpson in a speech when she was honored at the 7th Annual Washington Women in Journalism Awards. “I will never forget how generous she was with her time and her continued support." While Trump has disparaged Welker in recent days, he publicly congratulated her in January when she was named co-anchor of Weekend Today. "They made a very wise decision," Trump said.
What Kristen Welker can learn from NBC News colleague Savannah Guthrie's Trump town hall performance: "One of the surprising and heartening things that Guthrie did last week was to make it clear that she wasn’t a captive to the traditional 'town hall' format," says Margaret Sullivan. "Yes, she called on prospective voters, but she also did plenty of her own assertive interviewing, challenging Trump from the start and not letting him get away with much. (She also ignored him when he disrespectfully described her as cute.) Welker, too, must employ some strength and show some independence from the format. She can’t fact-check everything in the moment — but she can and must keep the debate from being a superspreader of disinformation. She has a strong obligation to do so if, for example, Trump says, as he has before, that young people aren’t likely to suffer much from covid-19. Or that the country is 'turning the corner' on controlling the virus when in fact it’s on the rise. She can remind the candidates firmly at the beginning of the debate — and let the audience hear it — that their campaigns have agreed to follow the rules. She should avoid cloying efforts to keep control by soothing the president as (Chris) Wallace did when he promised that Trump would like the next question, as if he were offering him a cookie if he’d just be good. And she should be the one to pose questions and direct the discussion, not ceding that to either candidate."