Last night's first presidential debate of 2012 produced two winners.
Viewers and pundits across the political spectrun agreed it was a good performance for Romney; Obama, not so much.
But the big winners were the viewers thanks to the open segment format and thanks to moderator Jim Lehrer.
Some commentators criticized Lehrer for "losing control," even suggesting he seemed, as it were, to fade into the background.
Well, shame on Lehrer. Doesn't he know the star of the debate is supposed to be the moderator?! And how dare he sit so far downstage, away from the candidates that he almost appeared to be one of the audience members.
In fact, why is he sitting at all? Shouldn't he be on stage, stalking about, ready to pounce with the "gotcha" question that will create the defining moment of the debate, possibly even the election?
Isn't the role of the candidates to be the props for the moderator's dazzzling knowledge (accuracy insignificant) of the issues, sagacious questions, and secret desires for an invitation for Dancing with the Stars?
Apparently, Lehrer thinks not.
He is from the old school of newspaper journalism, when reporters reported the news. They did not try to be the news. Even those who moved on to television, viewed themselves as reporters first, celebrities second (if at all).
So Jim Lehrer let Romney and Obama discuss, agree, disagree, frame and reframe issues. And the American voter got to see and hear the candidates unfiltered.