Lehrer Defends Debate Performance

Saul Loeb / AFP / GettyImages

US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

Pundits mostly panned President Obama’s debate performance Wednesday night, but 78-year-old Jim Lehrer was also criticized by many pundits for being too passive as moderator. Now the former anchor of PBS’s NewsHour is responding. “Part of my moderator mission was to stay out of the way of the flow, and I had no problems with doing so,” Lehrer said in an email to The New York Times. “My only real personal frustration was discovering that 90 minutes was not enough time.” The new format, which allowed for 15 minutes per topic, was about facilitating exchanges between the candidates, he added.