Changes to Debate Format Could Better Serve Voters, Candidates

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Since the widely panned Oct 28 GOP debate, there has been a lot of discussion over what sort of format and approach upcoming debates should take to best serve not only the candidates but more importantly, the voters. “It was deplorable on all counts. It was embarrassing really on the part of both the candidates, the Republican National Committee, which was involved in negotiating it, and some of the journalists,” said Newton Minow, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President John F. Kennedy. Minow has been called the father of televised presidential debates and he co-chaired the 1976 and 1980 US presidential debates. “The purpose of the debate is to educate the voters so that they can make intelligent decisions about who to support. In this case, it became a debate about the debates rather than a debate about the issues.”

Jim Warren, the national political writer for US News & World Report and chief media writer for the Poynter Institute, disagreed. “I don’t think it was anywhere near as bad as Newt suggests. I think it was very untidy," Warren said. "I think a lot of that stems from the fact that you have an impossible structural reality at this point of 10 -- count ‘em 10 guys -- who over two hours you expect to perhaps have a serious discussion of policy at the same time.”


Changes to Debate Format Could Better Serve Voters, Candidates