The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the moderators for the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. NBC’s Lester Holt, ABC’s Martha Raddatz, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and Fox News’s Chris Wallace will moderate the presidential debates while CBSN’s Elaine Quijano will moderate the vice presidential debate.
Cooper and Raddatz will co-moderate the second debate which is a town hall format. It is a curious decision on the part of the Commission on Presidential Debates to have two moderators for a debate where the moderator is typically not as involved.
Steve Scully, the political editor for C-SPAN, will serve as back-up moderator.
“These journalists bring extensive experience to the job of moderating, and understand the importance of using expanded time periods effectively. The formats chosen for this year’s debates are designed to build on the formats introduced in 2012, which focused big blocks of time on major domestic and foreign topics. We are grateful for their willingness to moderate, and confident that the public will learn more about the candidates and the issues as a result,” said Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Michael McCurry, co-chairs of the Commission.
The debates will continue using the format introduced in 2012 where blocks of time are dedicated to a single topic and the moderator largely guides conversation between the candidates.
All of the debate moderators moderated debates during the primary season in 2016. Cooper’s moderating was known for his fact-checks during a debate, a tactic both well-received and disliked. Candy Crowley, then of CNN, used a similar tactic in 2012 when she hosted the town hall meeting and fact-checked former Governor Mitt Romney (R), much to the ire of conservatives.
Wallace is the first anchor from Fox News to moderate a debate in the network’s almost twenty year history.