Debates doubling as "Meet the Press" tryout?

The presidential debate schedule is announced, and the four hosts have all been mentioned as possible replacements for Tim Russert.


Thomas Schaller
August 5, 2008 8:22PM (UTC)

The presidential/vice-presidential debate schedule has been announced:

First presidential debate, Friday, Sept. 26, University of Mississippi, Oxford; moderator: Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor, "The NewsHour," PBS.

Vice-presidential debate, Thursday, Oct. 2, Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.; moderator: Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent, "The NewsHour," and moderator and managing editor, "Washington Week," PBS.

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Second presidential debate (town meeting), Tuesday, Oct. 7, Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.; moderator: Tom Brokaw, special correspondent, NBC News.

Third presidential debate, Wednesday, Oct. 15, Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.; moderator: Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host, "Face the Nation."

Three quick observations:

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  1. Three of the four host sites are in quote-unquote Real America, including two in the South and one in a border state. Flyover America is never more important than on debate night. Of course, only phony Americans live in the Northeast and California, so if you want a real, substantive debate the backdrop just has to be in real, substantive portions of the country.
  2. It is a shame organizers slated Gwen Ifill for the vice-presidential debate. It would have been a great media politics moment to have a black moderator for a debate featuring the first major-party black presidential nominee in history. Unless John McCain surprises and picks Condi Rice, such a moment is lost.
  3. All four moderators received some public mention as possible replacements for Tim Russert as the next permanent host of "Meet the Press." The roster looks like an invited tryout for the gig.

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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