This post was written by Hatchet reporter Amelia Williams.
Three moderators of last fall’s presidential and vice presidential debates brushed off criticism that had bounced around social media about their questions and toughness at a Monday taping of The Kalb Report.
In a debate season known for one-liners like “binders full of women,” moderators Jim Lehrer, Bob Schieffer and Martha Raddatz said at the National Press Club that they knew the popularity of Twitter would put them under a microscope too.
“Scrutiny, thy name is Twitter,” quipped Raddatz, an ABC News correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator.
The harshest criticism from pundits and social media users around the world had mostly been directed at Lehrer, a PBS broadcaster who was blasted by some for not pushing candidates on tough questions during a presidential debate.
He fought back against those allegations Monday, explaining that the debates are designed for the candidates to show what they can do – not for the moderator to practice hard-hitting journalism. Instead, he said, the moderator is responsible for listening instead of prodding candidates with “gotcha” questions.
Some of the Twitter criticism was also light-hearted, Schieffer added in the forum hosted by Marvin Kalb and sponsored by GW.
Schieffer, a CBS broadcast, described his confusion with Twitter’s popularity and discussed his first interaction with the site after he moderated the final presidential debate: “One of [the tweets] said, ‘Who is that old guy? Is he a Muppet?’”
But Schieffer commended the role that presidential debates play in the American political process, allowing Americans to step away from partisan news outlets to share a stage for 90 minutes.
“Republicans will sit through listening to Barack Obama in order to hear what Mitt Romney has to say, and Democrats will do the same,” Schieffer said.