It’s proving to be very difficult for the Commission on Presidential Debates to find an unbiased moderator, especially when one of the candidates has been playing footsie with the media for decades.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s friendship with media personalities is one issue facing the Commission as it searches high and low for an unbiased moderator for the first debate between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump scheduled for Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Among the concerns is Clinton’s “close group” with media personalities, including CBS’ Charlie Rose. The broadcaster reportedly spent a Christmas vacation with the Clintons and others in the Dominican Republic, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2012.
Thus is the conundrum facing the 2016 debate organizers.
“The Commission on Presidential Debates had planned to announce moderators in late August, but it now intends to wait until after September 5, the sources said,” CNN reported.
The commission is trying to choose a person who is “immune” to charges of bias and want to avoid a situation where the moderator becomes part of the debate story, the network said.
“This has made the Commission even more cautious than usual in researching potential moderators, sources said. The Commission fears that Trump would use even the slightest whiff of a pro-Clinton bias to attack a moderator and undermine his or her credibility,” CNN said.
“The Commission is also likely to pass over any television personality who has had a dust-up with either candidate. So while Fox News host Megyn Kelly has been one of the most prominent media personalities in the 2016 cycle because of her public spat with Trump, she will almost certainly not be invited to moderate a debate for exactly that reason,” CNN said.
Go-to moderators like Jim Lehrer and Bob Schieffer are off the table because both have retired — Lehrer from PBS and Schieffer from CBS. They joined the Commission’s board of directors after the 2012 presidential election, though Schieffer has since left the board and returned to CBS News as a part-time contributor.
Now the Commission is looking for a qualified moderator with no ties to either candidate and a stellar reputation.
As Schieffer told CNNMoney, “Nobody comes to the baseball game to see the umpires. They come to see the players.”
Trump said in July the schedule is rigged in favor of Clinton, with debates scheduled against NFL football games.
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