Jim Lehrer: Badass Moderator – Where Was this Jim Lehrer Last Week?

Much has been said about disappointing performance at last weeks presidential debate. Like most of my fellow lefty friends, I believe President Barack Obama squandered a perfect opportunity to call into question the many lies of Mitt Romney. But like the old saying, it’s all water under the bridge at this point. And to be honest, I think the media has overstated a direct correlation between Obama’s performance, and Romney’s subsequent bounce in the polls. A bounce that has all but evaporated in recent days I might add. Yep, relax Obama supporters; chill out. we got this; it’s not over.

Yes the race is pretty much tied at this point nationally; however, I doubt whether any of it has to do with Obama’s performance. Of course, I can be wrong; and maybe I’m overestimating the political sophistication of potential voters whom I believe didn’t fall for Romney’s lies; or, the media driven hype that says that Obama got stomped. That aside, I think not enough has been said in media circles about just how horrible the debate was moderated by Jim Lehrer. In my opinion, had he handled his duties differently, the percieved outcome would’ve been different.

After an initial burst of criticism, Jim Lehrer said “everybody is pretty well chilled-out” now about his performance as moderator of the first presidential debate this fall, and he believes it will start a new era with less involvement by moderators and more direct interaction by candidates.

Lehrer made his remarks Monday night to Sean Hannity on “Fox News.” Hannity pronounced the PBS news veteran’s performance “great” and extremely fair.

The furor over last Wednesday’s debate between President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney has created strange bedfellows. Liberals who usually are big fans of PBS criticized Lehrer for being too passive, while conservatives who often hammer the public network and call for its federal funding to be cut, defended the 78-year-old anchorman.

Lehrer noted the barbs he endured for not following up more aggressively with the two candidates. But he said that was the goal of the new debate format established by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

“The whole point was … if there was going to be any challenging, the candidates were going to have to do it themselves,” Lehrer said. “I was going to facilitate the challenging, but I wasn’t going to do it myself.”

Lehrer had hoped to try the new format in the last presidential race, but he said Republican nominee John McCain “didn’t want to play, so it didn’t work” in his debate with then-Sen. Barack Obama. Last Wednesday’s face-off was a natural progression from the less-engaging encounter of four years ago, Lehrer said.

Lehrer quipped that he was “not really keen on criticism” aimed at him. But he said the attacks had dissipated because 67-million people watched at least part of the televised debate and “spin doesn’t work if everyone has seen the event.” (source)

I don’t know about you, but I would have preferred a more aggressive Lehrer, much like the badass in the following video. New format or not, I don’t think Lehrer understood his role as debate moderator.