Presidential Debate Moderators Chosen

By Chris Ariens 

The Commission on Presidential Debates has selected anchors from PBS, ABC, CNN and CBS to moderate this year’s four sanctioned debates.

PBS’s Jim Lehrer will host the first presidential debate October 3 at the University of Denver; ABC’s Martha Raddatz will moderate the one and only vice presidential debate October 11 at Centre College in Danville, KY; CNN’s Candy Crowley will host the second, town-hall style presidential debate on October 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY And CBS’s Bob Schieffer will host the third and final presidential debate on October 22 in Boca Raton.

The four debates will air on all broadcast and cable networks and will be live-streamed. ABC News president Ben Sherwood sends a note to his staff on the selection of Raddatz, ABC’s senior foreign affairs correspondent: “Her selection is a great tribute to her toughness, fairness, reporting skills, political knowledge, and many talents as a fearless interviewer and journalist.”


Crowley is the first woman to moderate a presidential debate since former ABCer Carole Simpson hosted in 1992. (Since then Gwen Ifill has twice moderated the VP debate). Crowley may have three New Jersey high school students to thank. Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel, and Elena Tsemberis started a campaign earlier this summer, after learning in their Montclair High School civics class that a woman has not moderated a U.S. general election presidential debate since Simpson did it in 1992.

As for Lehrer, he’s the veteran. In the 1996 cycle he moderated all the debates. In 2000, he hosted 3 of the 4 contests. Two years ago, he told TVNewser, “I can’t imagine I would do another one. But I only answer those questions when the time comes, so we’ll see. I’ve done eleven of them, and I’m thinking that maybe the time has come to rest on my darts and my laurels and move on. We’ll see. Never say never.”

In a statement today, Lehrer say, “it was a difficult decision, because I have previously said I would not do any more debates. It was the new and expanded format – 6 segments of 15 minutes each – that finally tipped the scales for me.”