THE BLOG
09/11/2016 09:42 pm ET Updated Sep 12, 2017

TV journalists should not be moderators of presidential debates

The wave of criticism of Matt Lauer for his performance as a moderator of the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has evidenced the uneasiness that has been created by the various television channels. Matt Lauer had to field critics for a decision that was made by the NBC editorial staff. NBC Today is not exactly a news show. the Commander-in-Chief is not Matt Lauer's expertise.
News and journalism
News used to be the limelight of television. Today, they are paid lip-service and shows have become their primary activity. Over the last quarter of century, television news have fundamentally changed. The news channel such as Fox, CNN or MSNBC, have sliced their programs between a series of hosts of TV shows that have nothing to do with journalism. The result has been deplorable primary debates.
There are no real journalists to speak of on television: the topics are chosen for their appeal to viewers, the driving force being advertising. Journalists are most often news readers. Newsroom is a TV show I loved, but it is not reality.
Journalism and objectivity
Television programs have abandoned objectivity for partisan programs. They attract their viewers, but it also means that they do not have in their ranks journalists who would have the passion for the facts and the truth. The Factcheck function that used to be the privilege of journalists had to be outsourced to obtain a minimum of objectivity. Facts do not have the same exposure than opinions.
Interviewers are not journalists: they have no particular knowledge of the issues they talk about and the most hypocritical of all, CNN who never was the best news network they pretended to be (I watch the BBC when i want to have serious analysis), had "political contributors" who are party or candidate operatives. Needless to say, they take responsibility to choose the questions and the questioning participants.
The media no longer report the news, they make them
The venomous tenor and bewildering twists and turns of this presidential election have led observers inside and outside politics to call it a historic, sea-change race that will be studied for decades. Long-held assumptions about how to win have been upended as celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, sit at or near the top of their primary fields
. This study by Harvard University confirms the impression that the reporting no longer is driven by substance but by shows. The fact that Donald Trump made millions and let NBC make millions in TV shows made him a perfect product for the media to over-cover.
When the dust settles, it will be eminently clear that the objective collusion between providers of polls, sensationalism by television and lack of integrity have characterized the 2016 election and that we should not count on them to moderate presidential debates.
The Federal Electoral Commission has to revise the format of presidential debates.
The role of that commission resembles increasingly to the African equivalent. Overwhelmed by candidates operatives and frightened to take any decision.
Although the Commission's name implies broad authority over U.S. elections, in fact its role is limited to the administration of federal campaign finance laws, states Wikipedia. The Commission should have been all over the composition of the moderators of presidential debates that represents a huge way of financing some campaigns against others.
For monetary reasons, the networks are allocated some debates. That does not mean that their journalists should be the moderators. Even though they sometimes invite written journalists, they run the show.
With all due respect for Anderson Cooper, who is one of the best on-site reporters, what is called a Grand Reporter, it does not mean he should have played a "journalistic" role by being a multiple moderator.
Why not invite reporters from the Brookings Institute or Foreign Policy to ask questions about international matters, for example? Why not trust the journalists of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune or the Los Angeles Times to send their best experts to ask questions and moderate debates?
It is not too late.
Whether it happens or not, the United States has now proved to the world that it is not "the best democracy" but a brain dead show business. These elections have decreased the esteem of the world for our democracy, even if our citizens sometimes accept passively to be manipulated.