Jim Lehrer on the Debate: 'It’s Not My Job to Control the Conversation'

Jim Lehrer First Presidential Debate 2012 - H 2012
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Jim Lehrer First Presidential Debate 2012 - H 2012

The criticized moderator says that he thought the presidential debate was "successful" even though he is "not suggesting that everything I did was terrific."

After enduring criticism for being steamrolled by the candidates, presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer stated in an interview that he thought the evening was "successful."

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"It’s not my job to control the conversation. If the candidates gave me resistance, and I let them talk, to me that’s being an active moderator, not a passive moderator," Lehrer told Politico

From the early moments of the debate, the former PBS NewsHour host had a difficult time getting the candidates to directly address the assigned questions and stay within time limits. If Twitter trends are an indication of Lehrer's moderating performance, the nearly 10,000 followers of the account @silentjimleher speaks volumes. 

Cable news pundits from both sides of the aisle noted that Lehrer was a non-factor in the debate. One exception to this refrain was MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell who said on The Last Word that "I, for one, prefer when moderators get out of the way and don't litter the debates."

That seemed to be Lehrer's reasoning also.

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"One of the problems is that everybody is used to the old-fashioned debate system, which is very controlled, and where the moderator plays a more active role," Lehrer told Politico.

He did, however, concede in the interview that he is "not suggesting everything I did was terrific" during the debate.

"So yes, I’ve heard some of the criticism, but it’s not keeeping me awake at night. My conscience is clear," Lehrer stated.