Jim Lehrer responded on Thursday to the furor surrounding his debate moderating performance.
Though it was his 12th time in the role, Lehrer received some of his worst press, with critics saying that he had let both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney roll over him repeatedly, that his questions were vague and that he did not ask a broad enough range of them. The co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which selected Lehrer, said the forum had needed a "firmer hand on the tiller." Lehrer was grappling with a new format which saw the debate divided into 15-minute, relatively wide-open sections. The candidates took advantage of this, resisting Lehrer's attempts to bring them back on track or tell them their time was up.
The press was filled with articles about the job Lehrer did. He even got stopped by TMZ on his way back from Denver, the site of the debate.
Lehrer, though, appeared to brush off the criticism. In a statement to HuffPost's Michael Calderone, he said he was satisfied with both the format and his performance:
"I thought the format accomplished its purpose, which was to facilitate direct, extended exchanges between the candidates about issues of substance. Part of my moderator mission was to stay out of the way of the flow and I had no problems with doing so. My only real personal frustration was discovering that ninety minutes was not enough time in that more open format to cover every issue that deserved attention."
Some other members of the media also jumped to Lehrer's defense. "Jim Lehrer did the unthinkable – he let the candidates debate," Fox News' Greta Van Susteren wrote.