TV Rivals Pan Jim Lehrer At First Debate

The longtime presidential debate moderator let the candidates push him around repeatedly on Wednesday.

DENVER, Colo. — PBS host Jim Lehrer, the familiar face behind the desk at many presidential debates, was head-scratchingly absent from the first debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama, and drew scathing reactions from television figures from David Gregory to Lou Dobbs.

Their criticism: Lehrer let both candidates run roughshod over his time limits and efforts to push them into different topics and segments. His style allowed the candidates to repeat their points at will with hardly any interruption — but at times failed to forced them to truly debate each energetically.

Lehrer’s defenders pointed to a meaty debate that didn’t lack for contrast, but his peers were harsh:

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