Niagara Gazette — While both major party supporters keep chirping over who won the first presidential debate Wednesday night, it is abundantly clear that countless viewers agreed on the one real loser — moderator Jim Lehrer.
It would be easy to blame the Commission on Presidential Debates for talking Lehrer out of his self-imposed retirement from such high-profile assignments. Some observers think the much-anticipated 90-minute session would have been better served by a panel.
In fairness, Lehrer, a skilled broadcast journalist with numerous awards for his work, was moderating for the 12th time. As you might expect, the holier-than-thou conservatives contended that any critics of Lehrer were simply conjuring up excuses for the president's inferior performance.
The reaction ran the gamut of emotions:
• Rachel Maddow on MSNBC: "I personally don't know who won this debate. I do believe that we saw this debate format die a very painful death on camera."
• Chris Wallace of Fox News: "Lehrer seemed to lose control of the proceedings."
• John Podhoretz, a Conservative columnist: "Lehrer's the worst moderator in the history of moderation."
• Al Roker: "I hope Jim Lehrer gets the license plate of the truck that drove over him in this debate."
• Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's deputy campaign manager: "I sometimes wondered if we even needed a moderator because we had Mitt Romney. We should rethink that for the next debate."
As for Lehrer's response quoted in The Huntington Post: "I'm not going to say I've done a poor job."
Romney backers, however, shouldn't get carried away. They need to be mindful that four of the last five presidents were judged to have lost their first debate. Stay tuned.
MONEY TALK: For a number of reasons, the Seneca Niagara Casino is reluctant to release information about big winners. The word on the street, from people familiar with the jubilant moment, is that a Rochester area woman recently won upwards of $450,000 playing a progressive Wheel of Fortune game.