As much as people love dissecting the candidates themselves for any little thing, I think it’s just as helpful to grade the moderators.
First Debate…Moderated By: Jim Lehrer…What Worked: [Crickets]…What Didn’t: A ton. His performance was widely criticized by almost everyone. And you can’t say it’s just “liberal whining” because Obama lost the debate, conservatives also slammed him. The common complaint is that he let the candidates go on too long, but I actually feel like he interrupted them too much, becoming obsessive about sticking to the time while sacrificing any real substance. There were almost no interesting followup questions, and he let the candidates slide into their stump speeches too often…His Bias: Didn’t seem to have one either way, which might have made him more interesting if he did have one. Grade: D
Vice Presidential Debate…Moderated By: Martha Raddatz…What Worked: A lot. Raddatz was determined not to make the same mistakes as Lehrer, and seemed energized, with it, thoughtful, and all-around more alive. Out of all the moderators, she seemed to be having the most fun, and honestly got a kick out of both candidates. I think most people would probably say that both Biden and Paul Ryan are slightly on the egotistical side and letting a vivacious, sharp, and subtly sexy woman be their moderator was a stroke of genius…What Didn’t Work: I know some will say that Raddatz didn’t do a good enough job reigning in Biden from monkey stomping Paul Ryan, but you know what? It’s a debate. They’re not just there to play referee, and if one candidate can’t defend himself, it’s his own fault…Her Bias: Conservatives have been screaming about her “relationship” with Obama but she doesn’t really have one. There wasn’t a bias, they just didn’t like the outcome. Grade: A
Second Debate…Moderated By: Candy Crowley…What Worked: Candy did a solid, if unmemorable job. This debate was “town hall style” which meant that a lot of the questions were asked by people from the audience. So you have to grade them too, although that isn’t entirely fair to Candy…What Didn’t Work: It seems like the most memorable thing she got up was correcting Romney for an outright lie, but to me this was the best thing she did. More of this should happen, not less…Her Bias: No clue. I think she’s probably an Obama fan deep down, but it wasn’t all that evident on stage. Grade: B+
Final Debate…Moderated By: Bob Schieffer…What Worked: Not much. Bob looked like he was asleep up there. I don’t know why people took a shit all over Jim Lehrer but Bob isn’t equally being called to task for an uninspired, borderline lazy performance…What Didn’t Work: He’s the only moderator that I think had a clear bias for Romney. He kept regurgitating rightwing talking points, he let Mitt ramble on forever, and he even said “OBAMA Bin Laden” as a “slip of the tongue” phrase, which people that don’t hate the president rarely do…His Bias: Romney. Grade: D