Wanted: competent female debate moderators

We’ve commented on the performances of the moderators of the first three debates, so I’ll say a few words about last night’s moderator Bob Schieffer: Job well done.

Schieffer stuck to his assignment, which was to ask topical questions that provoke discussion; to move on to other topics after both candidates had a roughly equal opportunity to address the pending one; and to ensure that, overall, the candidates received equal time.

Reflecting on the four moderators, we see that the two old men, Schieffer and Jim Lehrer, performed well and that their female counterparts, Martha Raddatz and Candy Crowley, did not. Raddatz and Crowley turned in “more is less” performances. They participated more than Lehrer and Schieffer but exercised less control.

Crowley was particularly awful. At times, she became the third debater; she allowed the proceedings to spin nearly out of control; and she gave Obama significantly more speaking time than Romney.

In the end, the approaches of the moderators took me back to elementary school in the late 1950s. In those days, generally speaking, the female teachers cried out for order in the classroom and rarely got it, while the male teachers commanded order with little effort. In fairness to Raddatz, though, in Joe Biden she drew the archetypical problem child – a bully, class clown, and special needs student all rolled into one.

I hope this post hasn’t offended our female readers. As a society, we’ve come too far to be burdened by the gender stereotypes that, in my view, these four debates promoted. That’s why CNN, ABC News, and the rest should strive to select better female moderators in 2016.

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