Washington Post – Matt Lauer got panned last week for not challenging Donald Trump after the GOP nominee falsely claimed he always opposed the Iraq war during a forum on NBC. But Jim Lehrer thinks the format of the upcoming debates will allow the moderators to avoid playing the role of fact checker. “People sitting out there want the moderator to yell ‘liar!’ It ain’t gonna happen,” said Lehrer, who moderated 12 presidential debates from 1988 to 2012 and has since retired from PBS. “If Matt Lauer had both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sitting there together in a debate situation, and he asked that question and Trump gave that answer, all he would have had to do is say, ‘Secretary Clinton?’ … And then she would have called him a liar. The moderator would never have ever had to intrude.”
Matt Lauer’s moderation of last week’s national security town hall was routinely criticized in the liberal media for his failure to follow up on the candidate’s answer and for letting alleged “untruths” be said with no fact-checking. Jim Lehrer understands that debate moderators aren’t fact-checkers-in-chief; it’s not the role of the debate moderator to facilitate truthful and honest conversation, the less we hear from the moderators the better. Debate moderators hold a very similar role to NFL referees, they are there to let the two teams go head to head in competition. Would a referee be expected to call out Bill Belichick’s play-calling? The answer is no. The only reason we should even know a referee’s name is if they have spectacular biceps that cannot be contained by normal sleeves.
Since none of the announced debate moderators possess the bicep definition that Hochuli has, it’s best they stay quiet and let the candidates do the talking. Martha Raddatz is rumored to have some impressive traps however so if she moderated the debate in a Golds Gym tank top she would be in her right to jump into the conversation a little bit more.
Fact checking throughout a debate is the equivalent of constantly throwing flags on the field, it slows down the pace of play and ruins the value of the game. If the Titans want to line up with 13 players on defense, who is a referee to interrupt the game and correct them on what may or may not be a rules violation. Debate moderators are like back-up quarterbacks, best seen and not heard.