Even a group of respondents generous enough to give “CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer a thumbs-up for his moderation of the third and final presidential debate” tells Free Press/Tyndall pollsters (10/16/08) they “felt the moderator could have done more to challenge the candidates’ spin”:
Despite their general praise of Schieffer, the debate raters agreed that he didn’t do enough to challenge the candidates’ factual misstatements or spin with tough follow-up questions (64 percent of McCain’s supporters; 58 percent of Obama’s).
This concern has been consistent in prior debates, with many reporting that the debate format limited the public’s ability to get engaged in the discussion, while not allowing enough leeway for a departure from scripted answers….
“Questions should be drawn from a pool that are submitted and voted upon by citizens either online or by other means,” another viewer wrote. “This would achieve a closer approximation to what people really want to know without filtering.”
Among the participants’ other innovative ideas: “Instant factchecking of answers, so candidates could not take advantage of the format to spin issues and avoid real answers” was suggested as a way to let us “know when one candidate is lying,” since “the average American does not have the time to factcheck everything the senators say”–and they surely can’t depend upon the corporate campaign press to fulfill their obligation to do so.