Critics Take Aim At Jim Lehrer For Debate Handling

By Alex Weprin 

Apparently criticizing Jim Lehrer is a bipartisan affair. The “PBS NewsHour” anchor was roundly criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for various perceived infractions.

NowThis News put together a supercut:

The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple argues that it wasn’t Lehrer’s fault, he just had a thankless task:

Lehrer’s real problem was that, for one night, he had to play stand-in for the entire American media. And if there’s one thing the American public enjoys, it’s bashing the American media, no matter how it performs.

The AP’s David Bauder rounds up many of the critiques on social media:

The tough assessments crossed party lines: Republican commentator Laura Ingraham wrote on Twitter that Lehrer seemed “a bit overwhelmed.” Comic and Democratic activist Bill Maher bluntly tweeted that “Lehrer sucked.”

The Nation‘s Richard Kim pulled no punches:

I’ll leave it to the horserace pundits to decide who won tonight’s debate and to the voters to decide who will win the election. I know who lost: Jim Lehrer, PBS, old media and the myth of the “sensible center.” Tonight’s moderator, Jim Lehrer, got utterly, totally, savagely pwned. The Lehrer/PBS school of moderation is fundamentally unequipped to deal with the era of post-truth, asymmetric polarization politics—and it should be retired.

On, Dan Gainor writes:

The biggest tells for Lehrer’s failures came from the clock. The monologuing was so unchecked that only about three minutes were left for the last segment. Lehrer then took 51 seconds to try to ask his question – three times making the point that only three minutes were left. When the debate ended, Obama had used more than four minutes more air time than Romney, another example of how Lehrer was unable to control the debate tempo.

From New York magazine:

Later, while attempting to rein in Obama’s comments on health care reform, Lehrer found himself on the receiving end of one of the night’s more memorable zingers when he informed the president, “Two minutes is up, sir.” Obama replied, “No, I think — I had five seconds before you interrupted me.” Following some laughter from the audience, Obama continued speaking for at least fifteen seconds. “Your five seconds went away a long time ago,” grumbled Lehrer.