I enjoyed liveblogging last Thursday’s Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, not so much because I relished watching a bunch of prima donna lefties on national TV, but more because I found it refreshing that MSNBC news anchor Brian Williams maintained the role of impartiality throughout the debate in his questions and I respected overall how he handled himself. In my opinion, how Williams handled the debate should be how all moderators should conduct themselves.
With that in mind, I just got done reading the exchange that occurred between Williams and MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews from last Friday’s show, where Matthews tried his best to get Williams to ‘pick a winner’ and drop his impartiality, while Williams steadfastly refused to rise to Matthews’ bait. The entire transcript is here, but Greg Pollowitz at NRO’s Media Blog has the relevant parts of the exchange here. I’ll post some snippets:
MATTHEWS: Because the question answered itself, in its genius, upon itself. Let me ask you, did you look in the eyes as you were asking the questions? You must have felt a certain feel as you directed a question because the way you did it, you called upon one of the candidates and then you directed the question toward them. Did you ever see fear in the eyes from the incoming that you were addressing there?
WILLIAMS: The attempt to get Brian to handicap last evening continues, if you’re just joining us.
MATTHEWS: No! I just want to know whether you felt the power of the guy with the gun, if you will, as you directed it toward these perhaps nervous candidates.
WILLIAMS: There’s an expression…
WILLIAMS: There’s an in South Carolina, What happens on the debate stage…
WILLIAMS: … stays on the debate stage. No, what I did see—and I was forced to look down a lot, when politeness would indicate making eye contact, because there were quotes I needed to get exactly right.
Williams’ professionalism in the face of the numerous attempts Matthews made at trying to get him to give his personal opinion on ‘who won’ should be commended. It violates the trust of viewers for the moderator to either say who he thinks is going to win, to act like he’s got a favorite during the questioning, and/or to give his personal opinion afterwards as to who won.
By the way, the first scheduled Republican presidential candidates’ debate is this coming Thursday on MSNBC from 8 pm ET to 9:30 ET.
Chris Matthews will be the moderator.