Presidential debates are a joke. It’s all political theater.
As someone who has both participated in and moderated public debates, I can tell you that presidential debates are not debates. They are a circus for ratings and an exercise in incoherence.
- The moderator should not be involved in the debate! Yet, with political debates the moderators make it about themselves, since they frame the questions. Instead, they should be there only to enforce the rules—and they cannot even do that as they allow the candidates to talk over each other.
- There are no openings and closings.
- There are no rebuttal periods—giving your opponent a minute to respond is hardly a rebuttal!
- And there is no cross-examination, which is the very heart of the debate. That is, one participant has, for example, 20 minutes to cross-examine the other opponent, and vice versa. A free-for-all of back and forth not only lacks meaningful discussion, it is incoherent and all over the map.
Presidential debates possess zero elements with real, public, moderated debates.
Television network anchors should not be moderators. They should be conducted with professional, unbiased moderators who only enforce the rules and do not shape the debate with their questions.
Presidential debates are a joke and nobody actually learns anything. It’s all political theater.