A Republican Party subcommittee has a “heavy appetite” to choose which journalists moderate primary debates, Peter Hamby reports. Someone “familiar with the ongoing discussions” says party chair Reince Priebus wants fewer debates and more predictable moderation:
“There is a definitely a consensus for Reince’s objective to have less debates and have control over how and who we have run our debates, rather than just turning it over to X, Y or Z network and having a guy moderate who’s going to just dog you for two hours,” said the Republican, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive and not-yet-finalized rules changes.
In October of last year, Poynter reported on the lack of diversity among debate moderators in general-election — not primary — contests, and the history of debates about the debates themselves. Also in October, Poynter reported on the Commission on Presidential Debates, and whose interests it serves.
As constricted as these things are, voters are tuning in like crazy and using them to help choose who will lead the country. Would they really have a better basis for that decision if the debates were unshackled from the campaigns? Perhaps not. Maybe a better question is: Does the secrecy in which the debates are organized adequately reflect the democracy they’re supposed to serve?