Make no mistake, being a debate moderator is a thankless job. Every candidate will do their best to exceed the allotted time granted to them, and acts of obfuscation and changing the subject happen every minute. So CNN’s John King had his work cut out for him last night in New Hampshire.
Critics said that King was perhaps too generous in letting candidates blather on past the 30 second mark (others commented on the grunts he used to get their attention after passing the mark), but he did appear to pick it up as the night wore on.
One thing that quickly became a hot topic on Twitter and reviews of the debate was the use of “This or That” questions spread throughout the debate, soft questions seemingly designed to let viewers get a sense of the candidate’s personalities:
“Either, or” questions such as “Coke or Pepsi” or “Deep Dish or Thin Crust” were asked of candidates, who mostly played along. While some viewers seemed to enjoy the questions early on, as the night wore on the criticism of them grew.
Time‘s James Poniewozik sums it up:
Just a general note to moderators of every presidential debate, ever: no one is sitting at home hoping you’ll “lighten the mood.” Your audience is people who have chosen to watch a Presidential debate on a weeknight. (In this case, in June of the year before the election.) They’re already in! They are actually OK with you asking serious questions about being President and stuff! If they wanted the mood lightened, there are about 300 other channels of reality shows, and they would be watching one of them right now.
What did you think of the questions? Did they give you a better sense of who the candidates were? Let us know in the comments.