When presidential debates become a media circus, it's the voters who lose. But an alternative debate format would eliminate the kind of candidate-moderator feud that is dominating our political moment. John Donvan is co-author of "In a Different Key: The Story of Autism" (http://goo.gl/5GcQ6w).
Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/john-donvan-on-presidential-debates
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Transcript - The public is so politicized that if I were moderating a presidential debate and I were to say to one of the candidates, you know, you’re really off point and you’re not responding, everybody would think that that means I’m on the other guy’s side. And that doesn’t happen in the Intelligence Squared debates. I don’t know why, but the audience recognizes and understands that what I’m trying to do is to protect the integrity of the debate. That if I’m calling somebody for not really debating well, our audience gets it that what I’m trying to do is to make the debate better. Not help one side or the other. I think in the presidential debates the moderators if they don’t interrupt, it’s their fault for letting the debate run off the rails. And if they do interrupt, they get attacked for taking sides. And that’s why I think it’s a sort of no — it’s a very difficult situation. I actually think and we have proposed to the presidential debate commission that they do the debates our way. Have a stated motion, do an Oxford-style debate — at least one time. I would be happy to moderate it. You’re going to debate about for and against this motion. You’re going to be okay with me interrupting. You won’t take it as an insult. You won’t take it as me taking sides. And may the best person win.
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