The moderators of the 2012 debates were biased in favor of the Democratic candidates, creating unfair obstacles for Republicans
Exactly one week to go before Election Day, and almost everyone knows where they stand. Most of us have known from the beginning just how we are going to vote. But both candidates have done their utmost to snag the votes of those who remain undecided. One of their main chances to do this was during the presidential debates. And while the overall impact of the debates is, itself, debatable, I think the way they were conducted deserves a closer look.
I live-blogged each debate for The Cavalier Daily, and anyone who followed my comments knows what side I am on. But that does not skew the facts – the presidential debates were neither conducted nor moderated in a fair way. And this is a deplorable state of affairs, especially considering the grand stage on which the political contests take place.
In the first and third presidential debates, the president won in time of possession – a whopping 4 minutes and 18 seconds more than Romney under Jim Lehrer, and 35 seconds more under Bob Schieffer, respectively. But in these cases, the moderators stayed largely out of the debate, Schieffer out of professionalism, and Lehrer out of what seemed a sheer lack of energy and willingness to enter the fray. But it is in the vice presidential debate and the second presidential debate that we find the moderators taking on the role of active participant.
The vice presidential debate showcased a more than one minute advantage to Joe Biden. But the story of the night was liberal moderator Martha Raddatz and her repeated assaults on Paul Ryan. Raddatz launched numerous pointed questions in Ryan’s direction while largely giving Biden a free pass. Her lowest moment came in her despicable joint-attack with Biden against Ryan in regards to cutting the deficit. Ryan barely had a chance to get a word in as he was rudely interrupted in tandem by Raddatz and Biden. The whole exchange was accompanied by Biden’s asinine chuckles and exchanged looks between Raddatz and Biden. Anyone with a shred of common sense would have thought they were watching an un-moderated two-on-one liberal vs. conservative debate.
The second debate, a town-hall style affair at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, again demonstrated a clear time advantage to the president. Only this time, it was accompanied and facilitated by liberal moderator Candy Crowley. She and Romney frequently got into interrupting matches, with Crowley telling Romney to return to his seat, ensuring him that he’d have time to answer. But that was not entirely true. The president got to speak for 44 minutes and 4 seconds, while Romney only got 40 minutes and 50 seconds, and he had to fight even for this time.
But even this bias was overshadowed by Crowley’s own participation in the debate. When the question of gun control came up, Crowley steered the conversation away from Fast and Furious, which is a more-than-legitimate gun issue, in order to pander to Obama’s education angle on gun control. But the bigger moment came in what many Democrats viewed as the debate’s highlight: the clash over whether or not the president had declared the attack in Benghazi an “act of terror.” When Obama claimed he had, Romney said he wanted that for the record, because the president had done no such thing. When Obama called for the transcript, Crowley leaped to his defense, saying, “He did call it an act of terror”. This is patently untrue, as a consultation of the actual transcript of Obama’s Rose Garden remarks clearly indicate that he was speaking of acts of terror in general: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” Never did he refer to the Benghazi attack as an act of terror – at the time, and for days afterwards, he maintained that the attack was in response to the YouTube video instead.
I heard a commentator afterwards say that the conservative complaints about Crowley seemed to indicate that President Obama had won the debate, but I vehemently disagree. True, complaints about the moderator seem like the strategies of the losing team, but does this mean conservatives were obligated to sit quietly by while the moderator misrepresented the facts in conjunction with the president? No way.
These debates may not have a massive amount of importance, but that is no excuse for accepting a consistent liberal bias. Networks should feel obligated to provide moderators who will treat both candidates fairly and who will keep the debate moving, rather than steering it whichever way he or she chooses and jumping in on the side of their favorite candidate. And when debates like these lack substance, it is essentially a battle for air time – a battle the liberal candidate should not win by default.