Bryan Fischer
February 22, 2013
No more news anchors as presidential debate moderators, period
By Bryan Fischer

Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at "Focal Point"

The co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates admitted this week that it was a "mistake" to select Candy Crowley as the moderator of the second presidential debate.

As Jon Ralston writes:

– Fahrenkopf said he was proud of his role in helping to pick the debate moderators, but then added, shockingly I thought: "We made one mistake this time: Her name is Candy," a reference to Candy Crowley of CNN, who absorbed hosannas from the left and brickbats from the right after she corrected Mitt Romney during the second debate.

Crowley injected herself into the debate by taking sides with President Obama on the issue of whether or not he had referred to Benghazi as a "terrorist attack." She then later admitted that she herself was wrong in what she had said during the debate, but the damage had already been done and the momentum Romney had gained by wiping the floor with Obama in the first debate was lost. The rest is history.

Because a media personality moderated, one candidate found himself suddenly debating two opponents instead of one. That's hardly cricket.

The point here is simple: if we're going to have a presidential debate, let's have a debate. No more of this Mickey Mouse, stacked-deck format where uberleft news pundits and anchors ask loaded and leading questions, and clearly tip the scales in favor of the home team.

The GOP candidate should flatly refuse to participate in a 2016 debate that is chaired by any news personality, period, even if he is from Fox News. We should have actual debates, with a personality-free debate referee.

College debate teams participate in refereed debates all the time. Nobody even knows the name of the referee. He is a non-entity. His only role is to keep time and move the debate forward according to the agreed upon format. That's it.

Here's the "Standard Debate Format" for a one-hour tussle:

1) First affirmative constructive speech – 10 minutes

One speaker: The main case for your position is made, with the best arguments and evidence presented. Why is this topic IMPORTANT and why is your position best?

2) First negative constructive speech – 10 minutes

One speaker: The main case for your position is made, with the best arguments and evidence presented. Why is this topic IMPORTANT and why is your position best?

3) Second affirmative constructive speech – 5 minutes

One speaker: Secondary arguments are made; evidence is presented.

4) Second negative constructive speech – 5 minutes

One speaker: Secondary arguments are made; evidence is presented.

5) First negative speaker's rebuttal – 5 minutes

One speaker (though others can provide him/her with material): The points in the 1st affirmative speaker's main case are refuted.

6) First affirmative speaker's rebuttal – 5 minutes

One speaker (though others can provide him/her with material): The points in the 1st negative speaker's main case are refuted.

7) Second negative speaker's rebuttal – 3 minutes

One speaker (though others can provide him/her with material): The points in the 2nd affirmative speaker's main case are refuted.

8) Second affirmative speaker's rebuttal – 3 minutes

One speaker (though others can provide him/her with material): The points in the 2nd negative speaker's main case are refuted.

The referee's job is very simple – keep time. He doesn't ask questions, whether they are leading questions, follow-up questions, or "gotcha" questions. Viewers hear each candidate make his best case, hear his opponent punch holes in it, and make up their own minds. The jury who decides the winners and losers is comprised of voters, who declare the winner of the debates on the first Tuesday in November.

The debate format can obviously be varied. The length of the debates can be extended; perhaps, for example, to 90 minutes with 30 minutes devoted to direct, time-controlled give-and-take between the two candidates. The first debate, for instance, could be devoted to federal spending, the second to domestic policy, and the third to national defense.

In the public debates I've participated in – on topics such as evolution-creation, the First Amendment, and same-sex marriage – each of us was given strictly time-limited opportunities to ask questions of the other, and we were given a strictly time-limited opportunity to respond. No interruptions were allowed, and when your time was up, your time was up. The referee cut your water off if you went over.

I remember nothing, zero, zip,nada, about the debate referees. That's because each did his job – keeping time, making sure the format was followed, and making sure both sides played by the rules. Because they were fair and even-handed, I don't remember anything about them.

And that's the problem. Everybody remembers Candy Crowley. And that's not good.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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