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Lehrer's philosophy on moderator's role tested

3 years ago October 04, 2012 Oct 4, 2012 Thursday, October 04 2012 Thursday, October 04, 2012 2:15:42 PM CDT in News
Source: Associated Press

NEW YORK - Former PBS anchor Jim Lehrer says a debate moderator should be like a baseball umpire - get out of the way and let the candidates play.

That philosophy may have compounded his troubles during the first presidential debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney as he tried and failed to stay out of the spotlight, an increasingly impossible dream for a moderator in the age of social media.

Lehrer was criticized on social media for losing control of Wednesday's debate and not being sharp in his questions. The candidates frequently ignored Lehrer's efforts to hold them to time limits.

A spokeswoman said Lehrer was traveling and unavailable for comment on Thursday. His defenders say there's no shame in letting candidates try to engage each other directly.

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