How would you fix the debate format?

Oct 04 2012 Published by under [Science in Society]

If you suffered through the US presidential candidate debate last night, you got treated to a surprisingly timid President and a slick liar being "moderated" by a senior citizen who seemed like he actually thought he was in a bus station trying to ask for directions. It was a waste of time much of the country could have been getting some sleep. Jim Lehrer was, so why weren't we?

Last night's format was not only flawed, it was virtually unwatchable. So how would you fix it? I would implement the following:

1) Fact check ticker at the bottom of the screen for the TV audience. It would be too distracting to have it involved in the debate in some way, but since virtually everyone watching was doing so on TV, it would have been very informative.

2) Limit responses in length and enforce those limits. Lehrer's moderating was so toothless last night I thought I had tuned in to ABC's new reality show "Senior Citizens Gum Food". Either have the mics turn off at the end of time, or subtract time over from the next response. But in order to do that, you need....

3) A moderator who moderates. Self explanatory.

4) Better questions. Jim's "questions from the internet* and other sources" were not only predictable, but often left unanswered. An actual moderator might have helped, but let's get some real questions. How about giving each candidate the ability to ask two questions of their opponent and hold the candidates to answering them? We still don't have any idea where Romney actually stands on ANY issue, which might be a nice outcome of these debates.

What are some of the ways (excluding Thunderdome format) that you might improve these debates?

*As I tweeted this morning, Jim Lehrer was shocked to find out today that "the internet" is not the pet name for PBS's intercom system.

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