Just hold the mic and keep the clock, Candy.
That’s what the Romney and Obama campaigns have said to the moderator of tonight’s debate, Candy Crowley. But she has other plans. From my new piece in The Guardian on why we continue to argue about the moderator’s role.
Just hold the mic and keep the clock, Candy. Good rule?
On that we have no consensus. But the strange thing is that our complete lack of consensus has been built into the system. That’s why we keep arguing about it. It can sound arcane, like a dispute over procedure, with big egos getting in the way. But what we’re really arguing about is this: In a real debate, in a grown-up world, in the political and media systems we actually have, does presidential power need an interlocutor to reveal itself? Or can it speak for itself and by taking responsibility – stepping up to the plate, under pressure – make itself sufficiently clear?
… In the vice-presidential debate, Martha Raddatz said something like this: Thank you for your service, Jim Lehrer! I will not be taking your approach. I am the interlocutor tonight. I represent the audience’s interest in getting better answers. I will intervene when needed. Politely, of course! And if I don’t hear any specifics, I will press the candidates to provide them. I am also a reporter myself, and will bring my knowledge to the table when I ask my questions. I think the people watching this understand very well why I am here, so abuse me at your peril. Are you ready, candidates?
To Jim Lehrer’s minimalism and Martha Raddatz’s vitalism, Candy Crowley has to bring something different: a kind of ventriloquism.
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