What should be the role of a presidential debate moderator?

The moderators of this year’s political debates have shown sharply different styles. And the moderator of tonight’s debate, Candy Crowley of CNN, has indicated that she may stray from her prescribed role as town-hall facilitator and ask follow-up questions of her own. Today’s Question: What should be the role of a presidential debate moderator?

  • Kurt

    Questions should be tough but fair. There shouldn’t be any cheap shots. You should not be able to tell which candidate the moderator supports. And, keep the debate moving.

  • Jack

    In the previous debate, the crime I’d allege is that Mr. Lehrer completely lost control of the time-keeping, format etc. Maybe that stuff is over-rated but if it is, why not have Vanna White instead?

  • Emery

    Jim Lehrer is neither one-sided nor unintelligent. As a moderator, do you want him to shine a light on Romney’s face and asked him tough questions? That was Obama’s job.

  • Gary F

    It will interesting to watch tonight.

    Seeing that Ms. Crowley is under pressure to make the President look good after his poor showing two weeks ago, how will she treat Mr Romney? How will she treat President Obama?

    Then, will we hear questions on why the cover up and blunder in the Benghazi attack and in the New York Times today, it looks like the Obama Administration is giving money to Al Qaeda in Syria?

    Why only crusty liberal dinosaur types for moderators?

    Why no one under 55? Under 50? Under 40? Why no minorities? Why no moderate or conservative moderators? Why from declining media outlets like CNN? CBS? ABC? Doesn’t look like much “diversity” in the moderators, that is, if anything outside of liberal white boomers, doesn’t fit into your definition of diversity.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Moderators need to have control of the debate by enforcing time limits and making sure that the tough questions actually get answered.

  • Rich

    Until these debates, I had no idea that Romney’s plan was to run slightly left of Obama. I had foolishly been listening to the things he said and reading the things his campaign published to try and figure out what he planned to do.

  • Chad

    To be Gary Eichten. Model civility, stay neutral, keep them on facts, and push them to answer the questions.

  • John

    The moderator shouldn’t ask questions about the candidates dedication to Israel, we already know they both would do anything including go to war with Iran and allow Israel to perform their daily killing of Palestinians in Gaza.

  • GregX

    Turning the participants microphones off at the alloted speaking time. Severely chastizing the participants for straying from or failing to answer the questions clearly. Putting the 3rd and 4th party candidates in the event. The wo party system presumes that one of theose candidates is the ultimate choice – and that may be true – so what is there to lose ,… oh … that’s right the canned market dynamics.

  • John P.

    Ask questions that show us the differences between the candidates, and press for clear answers.

  • Duane

    The questions are to be submitted by the audience that has been screened by the Gallup Organization to be an uncommitted voter. If this is in fact the case, than the moderator must be totally unbiased in any comment she may be compelled to give. I would allow her the right to clarify a question should it be based on misleading facts. I also would ask that she maintain strict compliance to the times allotted and should any interruptions occur, the moderator should stop and immediately correct the one interrupting.

  • davidz

    “That’s an interesting answer. Now would you please address the question that was asked?”

  • Jim G

    Crowley does not give up her 1st amendment right to free speech by agreeing to become the moderator. I would hope she will challenge outright lies and policy shifts as they occur in real time. She needs represent her profession with cogent follow-ups and pick the incisive initial audience questions.

  • Jeff

    To get the candidates to talk about the issues that matter to the voters, not just what they (the candidates) want to talk about.

  • georges

    “Crowley does not give up her 1st amendment right to free speech by agreeing to become the moderator.”

    Of course she does. If she didn’t give it up, she could just talk for an hour and a half all by herself, making it a 90 minute infomercial for her preferred candidate.

    Everyone in the room gives up their First Amendment rights. The moderator, the audience, the cameramen, the candidates…..everyone.

    No one would want to see one of the cameramen start a 90 minute rant, justified by First Amendment rights.

    They all give it up. If they didn’t, the show would not be worth watching. It’s all about what the candidates have to say, not the moderator, or anyone else.

    It isn’t about Candy Crowley. As much as her ego would like it to be about her, it just isn’t. She is a potted plant…..a microphone holder…..and she should stay out of it.

    Now, it needs an objectivist to have a cutoff switch, who will be charged with the duty to cut off a candidates mic whenever he strays from the question and goes to his prepared text.

    The objective Referee will be required to play back the foul on a Jumbotron behind the candidates, just like a NFL game, and show where the foul occured, name it, and penalize for it.

    A normal penalty could result in the other candidate getting 3 minutes to say whatever he wants, uninterupted.

    A major penalty could be 6 minutes….

    Then, of course, on the third offense a game misconduct should be issued.

  • Pat

    To the Stop the wolf hunt dot org crowd….

    Go hug a tree…. We have WAY too many here.

    It is time to cull the pack.

    Please keep your metro mentally to yourself.

  • Jim G

    @ georges

    Hi there, how’s it going? I’m doing just fine thank you. Just to bring you up to speed, my step-daughter was married this weekend. My wedding toast was for grand-kids, lots and lots of grand-kids. I hope the 1st amendment is still around when they come of age and begin voting. So that’s why the 1st amendment is especially poignant today.

    If one reads the article that is referenced in the introduction, Crowley is not a signatory to the agreement between the commission and the campaigns. Additionally, your argument against the moderator’s right to 1st amendment protection brings a smile to my tired eyes considering your constant use of this most precious right on this very page.

    I prefer a smart, on point facilitator and not a “Potted Plant” or “Microphone Holder” asking follow-up questions. This is not a totalitarian state yet, and we shouldn’t expect our journalists to toe any party-line. Her only consideration should be running a fair debate: keeping the candidates honest, with no flimflam allowed, please.

  • Shelly

    Get them off the talking points and into specifics. Call them on avoidance. I’m so tired of questions that go unanswered.

  • georges

    Your last sentence:

    “Her only consideration should be running a fair debate: keeping the candidates honest, with no flimflam allowed, please.”

    Is a severe restriction on Candy Crowleys First Amendment rights to free (unrestricted) speech.

    So, you agree that she must voluntarily give up her Constitutional Rights in order to be a part of the Debate Show.

    Welcome aboard………

    Free speech is not absolute. Not only can you not shout “fire” in a crowded theater, but you can’t go to someones home and verbally denigrate them against their will, or scream at your employer in his building, or have a part in a public debate and refuse to honor the behavior those conducting the debate require of all participants.

    Free Speech means you can criticize the government in YOUR building, or on public property, as long as you don’t interfere with the ordinary processes of life or hinder others in what they are doing, unless what they are doing is criminal activity.

    Therefore, Ms. Crowley must conduct herself in the manner the debate people want her to, or they can, and should, make her leave the premises.

    Simple.

  • Jim G

    And the moderator has the responsibility to question the flimflamer. Enough said.

  • David

    Meta yet mundane, inspiring reflection and revealing synthesis.

  • Ann

    The person should simply enforce the rules of the debate and let the listeners decide if the debaters are evading questions or not telling the whole truth.Some people thought Biden was rude by contorting his face and using other body language. I think he showed his inability to be a respectable leader of a great country.The media would have castigated Ryan if he had done such a thing.The moderator should be the one person that doesn’t show partiality.

  • Linda in Plymouth

    Women want to hear an honest debate and not the loud mouthed rudeness of Biden_ His behavior should have been stopped by the moderator..and he still took more time to talk than the Governor. The moderator should not hinder discussion and should ask followup questions of “show us the facts, where is the evidence?” for contrary inflamatory remarks. Women of MN want to know why our President misled us and used Hillary to be thrown under the bus for the cover up of the Ambassador’s murder.

  • Linda in Plymouth

    Women want to hear an honest debate and not the loud mouthed rudeness .Such behavior should have been stopped by the moderator..and he still took more time to talk than the Governor. The moderator should not hinder discussion and should ask followup questions of “show us the facts, where is the evidence?” for contrary inflamatory remarks. Women of MN want to know why we were misled and why was Hillary thrown under the bus for the issue with the Libya consulate scandal?

  • GregX

    in a town hall forum … ?? no much all except shutting off their microphones.

  • Steve the Cynic

    It doesn’t much matter what the moderator does. In fact, it doesn’t much matter what the candidates say. All that matters is which side most successfully spins the results.

  • Paul

    The moderator should hold their breath until the question is answered.