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Chris Wallace will be the first presidential debate moderator from Fox News

Chris Wallace will be the first presidential debate moderator from Fox News
Chris Wallace, left, who will moderate the third presidential debate on Oct. 19, with Fox News colleagues Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier at the first GOP presidential primary debate in Cleveland on Aug. 6, 2015. (Associated Press)

Chris Wallace will become the first Fox News journalist to moderate a presidential debate when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have their third scheduled face-off on Oct 19 at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Wallace, 68, is the anchor of "Fox News Sunday," which airs on Fox TV affiliates as well as the Fox News Channel on cable.

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"I am very excited to have the opportunity," Wallace said on Fox News after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the moderators. "Personally, I'm excited. I'm also excited because I will be the first Fox reporter to ever moderate a presidential debate, so I think that's quite a statement for our news organization."

Fox News launched in 1996 and has been the top-rated cable news channel since 2002. In recent months, it has been the most watched cable network overall.

Wallace, who is the son of the late legendary CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace, said he put the word out that he was interested in the debate assignment, but noted that there is no campaigning to the commission.

"You can't lobby for it," he said. "You can't do anything. They end up deciding it."

Wallace, who joined Fox News from ABC News in 2003, has a reputation for being tough on both sides of the political spectrum, which probably made him acceptable to commission co-Chairs Frank J. Fahrenkopf, a former head of the Republican National Committee, and Mike McCurry, who was press secretary in Bill Clinton's White House.

Wallace recently had Hillary Clinton on "Fox News Sunday" — her first visit to the program in five years. Clinton has avoided Fox News over the years, as she has often been the subject of harsh criticism from its commentators. But including the exchange with Wallace, she has appeared three times in 2016.

Wallace often makes news when he is tough on Republican politicians, who consider Fox News friendly territory. He had a particularly rocky exchange last year with former Vice President Dick Cheney regarding the President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

Elaine Quijano's assignment to moderate the vice presidential debate Oct. 4 will also be a milestone. She is the first anchor from a digital news channel, CBSN, to land a general election debate.

Quijano, 42, is seen by TV viewers on the Sunday edition of the "CBS Weekend News." But the bulk of her work is on CBS' Internet-streamed 24-hour news channel, where she leads its political coverage. The Filipino American is a former CNN correspondent who joined CBS News in 2010.

"Elaine connects today's digital audiences with this historic 2016 campaign," CBS News President David Rhodes said in a statement. "Her perspective, dedication to political reporting, and important role on CBS News' live-streaming platform make her an ideal choice to lead the only vice presidential debate this fall."

The vice presidential debate between Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Trump's No. 2, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will be held at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, 57, will moderate the first debate Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Martha Raddatz, 63, co-anchor of ABC's Sunday public affairs show "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," and CNN's Anderson Cooper, 49, will be co-moderators of a town-hall-style debate event with Clinton and Trump at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9.

Raddatz, who handled the debate between the vice presidential candidates in 2012, will be the only 2016 moderator with previous experience at a commission-sanctioned event.

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Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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