As a longtime critic of televised political debates I feel compelled to applaud Monday night's debate between our two presidential candidates. Others have voiced opinions as to whether Hillary or Donald won (Trump supporters believe he prevailed while Clinton faithful were confident she did) but to our mind the big winners were the voters.
Kudos to the nonprofit Commission for Presidential Debates for recognizing the many problems with recent staged-for-television events and for changing the format of this debate. In far too many instances the candidates' campaigns have dictated rules that focused more on process and not enough on content, resulting in a product that was often awkward, unsatisfying and uninformative. This time around the Commission introduced common sense guidelines that really gave us a chance to see and hear the candidates, their positions and how they respond under pressure.
Our only minor criticism was that perhaps it was overly ambitious to attempt to cover six major topic areas in one 90-minute debate, but there was much to like in this debate. The refusal to allow commercial breaks within the debate prevented the disruption of the flow and tone, which previously seemed to occur at the most inopportune times. Having just one moderator instead of several ensured continuity and better control, and one of the more satisfying changes was allowing the moderator to determine the topics and the questions. We appreciated the removal of distracting lights and buzzers signaling when a candidate had gone beyond a prescribed time limit and especially enjoyed the split-screen video that allowed us to both hear and see who was talking, while also showing us facial expressions and reactions from the other candidate. The end product was no glitzy made-for-television production with splashy graphics and effects so often present in previous debates. It was just good television. We felt well served in witnessing an honest debate that allowed candidates to speak to each other instead of to a timekeeper, moderator or even to pander to the live audience.
Give much of that credit to moderator Lester Holt from NBC. His was not an easy task but Holt clearly understood his role was not to be a distraction but rather the traffic cop, making sure each had time to speak, and referee if one candidate dominated or got out of hand. Many suggested that the moderator play the role of fact checker, calling out participants if they exaggerated or made false claims, but Holt correctly recognized that was not his role. Viewers wanted to hear what the candidates had to say and to see if they would call each other to task if necessary, so Holt deftly inserted himself only a few times. He introduced the subjects, ask the first question for each topic area equally to the candidates then pretty much got out of their way and let them stand or fall on their own. He did a masterful job.
Regardless of who you thought won or lost we had the chance to truly see how both candidates reacted and responded in real time give-and-take debate. Voters were able to get a good sense of both candidates and we hope this format will be continued, not only in future presidential debates, but also adopted for all future political debates.
Publisher's note: Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina State Treasurer and is creator/host of NC SPIN
, a weekly statewide television discussion of NC issues airing Sundays at 11:00 am on WITN-TV
. Contact Tom at NC Spin.
And now for your additional voting pleasure:
Considering that Hillary Clinton, from the recently concluded email investigation, is charged with gross negligence, dereliction of duty, was recommended that she lose her security clearance, while pathologically lying to congress, the press and the American People; and even though she was not referred for indictment because she is a Clinton: Will you?
11.84% Vote for Hillary
78.78% Vote for The Donald
9.39% Vote for none of the above
245 total vote(s) Voting has Ended!
What should be the priority of the Federal Government after the "Pulse" massacre: Should we turn our attention toward destroying, earadicating ISIS as Candidate Trump suggests, or, as Democrats' President Obama suggests, broaden our efforts to effect stricter Gun Control laws to limit "Gun Violence?"
88.24% After many years of trying to degrade and contain the murderous ISIS, we should make it the nation's policy to destroy ISIS immediately.
3.68% Gun Violence in America can be eliminated by limiting access to guns for all American citizens.
8.09% I don't care either way; I just live here.
136 total vote(s) Voting has Ended!