Gwen Ifill on MTP (skip to 1:18):
“The understanding was that we were going to have a debate. And one of the interesting things about debates, that people forget, especially with this one – there was so much obsession about Sarah Palin – is that there are two people on the stage. And their job …[to Brokaw] You know this. You’re doing this Tuesday night… are [sic] to debate each other. The moderator’s job is to control their debate. If they have decided, as Joe Biden decided, that he was going to debate John McCain, and she decided she was going to give a stump speech to the American people, there’s very little a moderator can do other than say, ‘No no no, I asked a question. Please answer.’ So I knew going in that they all had their goals for that debate…”
She goes on to argue that if Biden wasn’t going to challenge Palin, then what was she to do?
I don’t know. Something. Anything.
I’m sure Ifill is a lovely woman, but she tanked Thursday night, and shrugging your shoulders and saying, “What is a moderator to do?” is unacceptable. YOU are the voice of the viewer at that moment. YOU speak on behalf of the American people. Palin has made herself absurdly inaccessible to the press – and therefore the public – and when someone has a shot at pushing Sarah to answer a question or two – when the job she’s got is to do just that – she cannot stand down and let the nominee run the show.
“You didn’t answer the question.”
“I’m sorry. That is not what I asked.”
“Thank you for your thoughts on X, but I asked about Y.”
That – Gwen – is what a moderator should do. And let’s face it, you didn’t.
You didn’t even try.