Politics

TV Rivals Pan Jim Lehrer At First Debate

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

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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:

Would be great to have more follow up to pin down their views

Would be great to have more follow up to pin down their views-- David Gregory

This isn't a debate, it's just a polite exchange of views. Come on Jim, get in there and rev things up a bit! #PMTdebate

This isn't a debate, it's just a polite exchange of views. Come on Jim, get in there and rev things up a bit! #PMTdebate-- Piers Morgan

But, seriously, Jim Lehrer who has been unconscious for at least 15 years, has to be dealt with. This is a national problem.

But, seriously, Jim Lehrer who has been unconscious for at least 15 years, has to be dealt with. This is a national problem.-- Michael Wolff

Congratulation Jim Lehrer on your 96th birthday !

Congratulation Jim Lehrer on your 96th birthday !-- Roger Stone

RT @MSignorile: Jim Leher is a disaster, really. Generally like him. But... Why is he moderating this? #2012debate.

RT @MSignorile: Jim Leher is a disaster, really. Generally like him. But... Why is he moderating this? #2012debate.-- FreeRangeK

Jim Leher is a disaster, really. Generally like him. But... Why is he moderating this? #2012debate.

Jim Leher is a disaster, really. Generally like him. But... Why is he moderating this? #2012debate.-- Mike Signorile

Jim Lerher has become The Larry King of PBS #MockTheVote #Debates

Jim Lerher has become The Larry King of PBS #MockTheVote #Debates-- Lizz Winstead

SNL writers thanking GOD everyone is being so mean to poor Jim Lehrer!

SNL writers thanking GOD everyone is being so mean to poor Jim Lehrer!-- VANITY FAIR

Lehrer isn't doing well, Romney is aggressive in the nicest way, and the President blowing hard.

Lehrer isn't doing well, Romney is aggressive in the nicest way, and the President blowing hard.-- lou dobbs

Hey Lehrer, you're the fucking ref, stop letting the Mittbot bully you - he can't fire YOU

Hey Lehrer, you're the fucking ref, stop letting the Mittbot bully you - he can't fire YOU-- Bill Maher

Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.

Contact Rosie Gray at rosie@buzzfeed.com.

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