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.