Image courtesy of Debates.org
By Fernando Cordova
Ever since former Vice President Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee in early April, the public knew that he and incumbent President Donald Trump would eventually face off in the presidential debates this coming fall.
As of September 3, three debates have been scheduled by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) for Sept. 29, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22, as well as a vice presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 7. There has been speculation regarding how exactly the debates should function; some critics have suggested that they shouldn’t happen at all, but the Trump campaign has requested a fourth debate. However, with less than 20 days until the first debate, it’s unlikely any request for a change will be heeded, including who the moderators will be.
Last Wednesday, the CPD announced the lineup of moderators that will be facilitating the presidential and vice-presidential debates. At times, there has been more than one moderator assigned to each of the three debates. However, some experts say that the CPD making the decision to include just one moderator for each of the debates was a smart move, allowing for the debates to be “controlled, focused, and seamless.”
In addition, all four of the moderators for the presidential and vice-presidential debates were approved and selected based on three criteria, which are standard protocol when it comes to the CPD choosing debate moderators: familiarity with the candidates and major issues, experience in television news broadcasting, and an understanding that the debate should focus primarily on maximum time and attention on the candidates. Now that we know the format, let’s meet our moderators.
Tackling the first presidential debate is Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Having moderated the final presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle, some say that Wallace is more than qualified to have been selected. His praised performance of moderating that debate and extensive background in journalism could prove useful when moderating this upcoming debate.
The second presidential debate, to be held in a town-hall style format, will be moderated by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully. Since the debate’s questions will be primarily brought up by members of the main audience, per the town-hall format, Scully will be there to facilitate further discussion. However, having been described as “the most patient man on television” by HBO’s John Oliver, one can assume Scully has what it takes to facilitate a well-ordered debate.
Moderating the final presidential debate will be NBC News’ Kristen Walker. Walker is another seasoned journalist with experience in covering both White House news and presidential politics. Additionally, according to NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, “Kristen will ask the tough and necessary questions on behalf of American voters,” backing the fact that she will be impartial and fair to both candidates.
Finally, moderating the debate between current Vice President Mike Pence and Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris is USA Today’s Susan Page. Page currently works as USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief, boosting her credentials coming into the debate. In addition, she has covered ten presidential campaigns and six White House administrations, making her a highly accomplished journalist, just like her fellow moderators.
Regardless of who moderates the debates or even who participates, these debates will serve as history in the making, giving two individuals the chance to show the American people why either of them should be our next president. One could say that these debates will serve as the most important job interviews in the two candidates’ lives.