After a tame performance in an NBC debate in Tampa, Fla., last week, Newt Gingrich said he wouldn’t participate in any debates in which the audience couldn’t express itself. A few days later, the expressive crowd for CNN’s debate in Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t help him. Now Gingrich says that if he wins the Republican nomination, he won’t do any debates in the fall moderated by reporters. “You don’t need a second Obama person in the debate,” he said. However, a spokeswoman for the Commission on Presidential Debates tells Politico’s Dylan Byers that television journalists are best-suited for the high-pressure, live events.
After Gingrich skewered CNN moderator John King for asking about allegations the GOP contender asked a previous wife for an open marriage, Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark questioned why journalists moderate debates:
King’s performance raises the question as to whether journalists are the most suitable interrogators for presidential debates. Sure, networks want to give visibility to their high-priced talent, but I see no evidence that news anchors do a better job than, say, practical scholars or certain civic leaders.