Social media users were not impressed with the moderator of Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate.
Susan Page, Washington bureau chief with USA Today, was far more reserved in her moderation than Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who came under fire for his frequent interjections during last month’s first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in Ohio.
But some viewers of the showdown between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris in Utah felt Page should have been more forceful with the Republican, who several times continued speaking past his allotted time and at points interrupted his Democratic rival.
“This moderator has some sort of unconscious bias where she shuts down (Kamala Harris) right away and then just lets (Mike Pence) sail on when he goes overtime,” said news.com.au political editor Samantha Maiden.
The hashtag “#cuthimoff” was used by some people on Twitter.
“It would be nice to see (Susan Page) actually cut a person off that interrupts, and pushes back on the NON answering of questions,” said one user.
“If (Mike Pence) does not respect the timing turn off the microphone, please,” another wrote.
Another said, “(Susan Page) allows Pence to say Harris didn’t answer the question when he just two minutes ago did not answer the question. Sure looks like USA Today is in Pence’s pocket. Incompetent or biased?”
One person claimed the moderator was being “railroaded” by Mr Pence. “We need loud and firm moderators,” he wrote. “Clearly not journalists.”
CNN political analyst April Ryan said Page needed to “regain control”. “This is headed in the Chris Wallace direction now,” she said.
Karen Attiah from The Washington Post said, “Maybe Susan Page needs to try another STOP TALKING word than ‘thank you’ to Pence because this is ridiculous.”
Jill Geisler from Chicago’s Loyola University, said Page had “done an excellent job of formulating questions and a poor job of enforcing time”.
“The audience is very sensitive to fairness and becomes uncomfortable and even angry when candidates don‘t follow the rules and the moderator doesn’t uphold them,” she said.
“As moderator of (Wisconsin Broadcasters Association) 2018 gubernatorial debate I said from the top, ‘When they hit their time limit, I will advise them. If they continue, I will note it and their microphone will cease to work and we will go on to the next question.’ Just do this. It works.”
Others defended the moderator, however, saying she had done a good job.
“I think (Susan Page) is doing a great job. Although she couldn’t get Pence to move on,” said journalist Katie Couric.