In the wake of the furor over his gifts to the Clinton Foundation, George Stephanopoulos has taken himself out of the running to moderate a Republican presidential debate set to air on ABC next February. That development gave Salon’s Jim Newell a peg for his Friday argument that GOPers are off-base in their recent push for conservatives (or at least non-liberals) to moderate their party’s debates.
“The mainstream media moderator serves a useful function in Republican presidential debates,” wrote Newell. “If [he or she] asks a difficult or uncomfortable question, the Republican candidate can simply badger the moderator for pursuing a stealth liberal agenda. Whenever the candidate is on the verge of embarrassing him or herself, he or she can lash out at the moderator for trying to embarrass the cause of conservatism as a whole. All of the Republican voters in the audience are conditioned to hoot and holler with approval whenever this happens.” Newell added that if the moderator is a bona fide righty, however, “it eliminates [the candidates’] escape hatch. It’s much harder to yell at a Fox News host or a Hugh Hewitt about how they’re protecting Democrats.”