Moderators For Presidential Debates Announced

The moderators for the four fall debates have been announced:

Lester Holt, Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace have been selected to moderate this year’s presidential debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday.

Mr. Holt, the anchor of the “NBC Nightly News,” will moderate the first debate on Sept. 26; Ms. Raddatz of ABC and Mr. Cooper of CNN will moderate the town hall debate on Oct. 9; and Mr. Wallace of Fox News will handle the final debate on Oct. 19.

All are first-time presidential debate moderators.

Additionally, the CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano will moderate the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 4.

Most of the people who have moderated Presidential debates in the past, such as Tom Brokaw, Bob Schieffer, and Jim Lehrer, have retired from regular television work so I suppose it was inevitable that we’d get a new generation of moderators. I don’t have any particular opinion about any of the people selected, although its worth noting that Holt is the only one of the four selected who is the anchor of a daily broadcast news program, and that alone is a big change from the past that recognizes the fact that broadcast networks are not the leaders in the news business that they used to be. I was somewhat surprised to see Anderson Cooper on the list, though. If anyone from CNN was going to be selected I would have assumed it would be Jake Tapper or Wolf Blitzer. However, Anderson will be co-moderating the “town hall” style debate that has, unfortunately, become a traditional part of the standard rotation even though its typically the least informative and he has done several programs of that type on CNN during the course of the campaign so i suppose it makes sense that he’s on the list. Chris Wallace is, I believe, the first person from Fox News to be selected to moderate one of these debates, although he technically isn’t a Fox News Channel host since his program Fox News Sunday airs primarily on Fox’s broadcast stations on Sunday mornings before being replayed later in the day on the cable network.

In any case, these debates are likely to play an important role in the race going forward and, if the primary debates are any indication, could be among the most viewed such events in quite some time.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. dmhlt says:

    Most likely only the first debate will ” play an important role in the race”.
    After that, barring a major faux pas by either one, it’ll be baked into the cake, and just serve to cement people’s choices.