Articles about "Debates"

Republicans want to choose journalists who moderate debates


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.

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Pew: About half of Americans following election ‘very closely’

Pew | The Washington Post
Forty-eight percent of Americans are following the 2012 presidential election very closely, according to a new survey by Pew. That’s the highest figure this year, but it’s far lower than in 2008 — 61 percent of Americans were following the election very closely in mid-October then.

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President Obama, NYT trade fact-checks over Iran negotiations

Times Public Editor blog | The New York Times
In Monday’s debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked President Obama about a New York Times report that his administration and Iran had agreed to one-on-one talks about Iran’s nuclear program.

“What is the deal if there are such talks?” Schieffer asked. “What is the deal that you would accept?”

“Well, first of all, those were reports in the newspaper,” Obama replied. “They are not true.” Read more


Schieffer gets mostly good reviews as moderator of Monday’s presidential debate

As President Obama and Mitt Romney met for their third debate Monday, viewers and journalists settled into a slightly rote script. We sent funny tweets, then compiled the best ones. The nation’s fact-checkers went to work, as did our makers of memes. Twitter collected data related to all these efforts.

Here’s what journalists had to say about Bob Schieffer as moderator:

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Study: Crowley, Raddatz interrupted GOP candidates more often than Democrats during debates

Tonight, President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney will meet for their third and final debate before the Nov. 6 election. Voters will assess their performance while journalists will also assess how Bob Schieffer moderates their conversation. If recent history is any prediction, it will be a challenge.

There were 122 interruptions in the presidential debate on Oct. 16, 1.4 per minute on average. George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs counted the times Obama and Romney stepped on one another’s sentences, and compared it to their count from the first presidential debate. Some of the findings from a CMPA press release:

President Obama cut off Mr. Romney in mid-sentence 36 times, while Romney cut off Obama 28 times. Moderator Candy Crowley cut off Romney 23 times, compared to the 15 times she cut off Obama.

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Crowley on live fact-checking at debate: ‘I wasn’t trying to get them to clap’

CNN | Mediaite | Reuters | Associated Press | Forbes
Candy Crowley told Soledad O’Brien about the two moments when Tuesday’s debate audience clapped: In both instances, after Crowley attempted some live fact-checking. From CNN’s transcript:

Crowley: Well, I knew that the president has said act of terror, because this has kind of come up before, and also I heard him that day. And what Mitt Romney was going for, and I think where he tripped himself up was that he picked that one wrong fact. The president did call it or refer to it in some ways an act of terror, and so it felt as though – and the president kept looking at me going, you know, and I thought, well, I did know then, I said, you know, he did call it an act of terror. That’s what caused the applause.

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Teen who petitioned for female debate moderator: ‘No one — man or woman — could have done it better’

I don’t like to be told there’s something I can’t do. To be specific, I don’t like to be told there’s something I can’t do because I’m a girl.

Whether they meant to or not, and I’d like to think that they didn’t, that’s pretty much what the Commission on Presidential Debates has been indirectly telling every woman in the United States for 20 years by only choosing male presidential debate moderators for the past four elections. The last 12 debate moderators were all men. Twenty years went by without a woman on that stage, and that makes it a trend that started before I was even born.

I don’t understand why women were being passed by for this position repeatedly for 20 years when there has been such an abundance of great female journalists to do the job, but they were, and the message was clear. In my life, I never saw a woman on that stage acting as an authority over the two most potentially powerful men in America. That is, until Tuesday night.

Moderator Candy Crowley talks to the audience at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., before the second presidential debate. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

I think that Candy Crowley did a fantastic job in the last presidential debate, but that’s not what I will remember when I look back on the 2012 presidential debates between Obama and Romney. What I will remember is the fact that she was up there.

Yes, I hope to one day live in a time when the gender of a journalist or really anyone in the professional world is irrelevant because gender equality has already been achieved and is a total non-issue. However, until that day comes we can’t ignore the disparity between the treatment of the sexes in politics and media, because if we do then we won’t be able to fix it. And fix it we must.

That’s what my friends Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis and I set out to do this past summer. When we noticed that there hadn’t been a female moderator in 20 years, we were shocked and disappointed, and we wanted to close that gap immediately. We petitioned the Commission on Presidential Debates and the Obama and Rommey campaigns to choose at least one woman to moderate one of the presidential debates and gathered a total of about 180,000 signatures on our two petitions combined.

New Jersey teens Sammi Siegel (left), Emma Axelrod (center) and Elena Tsemberis (right) hoped to deliver boxes of petitions to the Commission on Presidential Debates in Washington, D.C., this past July. They were turned away. (Photo courtesy:

On August 15, the Commission released the names of the moderators and we discovered that not only had CNN’s Candy Crowley been chosen to moderate last night’s presidential debate, but ABC’s Martha Raddatz was asked to moderate the vice presidential debate as well. That makes 2012 the first year in American history with women making up 50 percent of the four total debate moderators.

This was thrilling on so many levels. It’s unclear how much, if any, of the CPD’s decision can be attributed to the work Sammi, Elena and I put into raising awareness of the need for more gender equality on the debate floor (they refused to meet with us and refused our petitions when we tried to deliver them), but the change we wanted had still been made. That’s what matters to us.

Crowley was a great choice and I loved her follow-ups and thought she did a sound job of keeping the candidates under control, especially since we all know from watching Jim Lehrer’s performance as moderator in the first debate that it’s not the easiest job.

At the beginning of the debate, Crowley said that her goal was “to give the conversation direction and get the questions answered.” No one — man or woman — could have done it better.

Crowley moderated the second presidential debate. The final debate between President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney will be moderated by CBS’ Bob Schieffer.

But what I will take away from watching that debate is the visual of seeing her up there, just as strong as the two men vying to be the most powerful person in the United States, and one of the most powerful people in the world.

She was in a position of authority over them, and she held that authority well. I doubt it’s easy to tell the President of the United States that his time is up and would he please stop talking. I like to picture women and girls across the country, and around the world, watching the debates and being able to visualize themselves in that sort of position of power and authority more easily than they ever could before. It’s all about the equal representation.

My friends at the Women’s Media Center like to say when discussing the importance of more positive female role models in the media: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” On Tuesday, for the first time in 20 years, Candy Crowley gave us all something to see. Read more


Jay Rosen explains the dynamic that creates ‘ungovernable’ debates:

The debates in their current form are a temporary alliance among three players: the campaigns of the major-party candidates for president, the Commission on Presidential Debates and the journalists who are chosen to moderate and maintain order. Each draws power from a different source. The campaigns are the exclusive agents for the two main characters in the drama; without them there is nothing. The commission represents in institutional form the expectation Americans voters now have that the nominees for president will meet face to face and argue their respective cases. This is a potent force. It’s virtually impossible for the candidates to refuse, although nothing in election law prevents it. The journalists who moderate have power because once the cameras come on and the debate begins, no one is telling them what to say.

Jay Rosen


Whose interests does the presidential debates commission serve?

On Monday, Mark Halperin published a memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns on how the debates would be conducted. Both campaigns had expressed concern that Candy Crowley, who will moderate tonight’s town-hall-style debate, might ask follow-up questions.

USA Today’s Martha T. Moore writes that Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., a co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, told her “the commission is not bound by the campaigns’ agreement“; Crowley “will be able to ask follow-up questions during a two-minute ‘discussion’ period after each candidate has answered the question posed by a member of the audience,” Moore writes.

“This (agreement) is between the campaigns,” [Fahrenkopf] said Monday. “We haven’t agreed to it and neither has Candy.” Nor has the commission sent CNN a copy of the campaigns’ agreement, called a memorandum of understanding, he said.

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Moderator Candy Crowley’s follow-up questions at Tuesday’s debate are already upsetting both campaigns

Time | The New York Times
The Obama and Romney campaigns signed an agreement that at Tuesday’s debate, “The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the two-minute response period.” Time obtained the memo (embedded below), which lays out the terms for the town-hall-style debate agreed to by the campaigns and the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The moderator has a different idea. CNN’s Candy Crowley told Suzanne Malveaux last week that moderators “need to take control” at times.

In an interview with The Huffington Post’s Jack Mirkinson last week, Crowley said, “I think it’s always best when these guys engage with each other, but that doesn’t mean I won’t engage with them if that gets us closer to what we need.” Read more

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