Tonight, Senator Mary Landrieu and Treasurer John N. Kennedy met for their fourth and final debate, an event that was broadcast statewide and included a roster of local television news anchors as its panel of questioners.
For the most part, the debate was a recapitulation of previous debates, with one notable exception: Dennis Woltering of WWL served as the moderator.
And with all due respect to the good people at WWL, Mr. Woltering did not serve your station well. He constantly interrupted both candidates. He cut them off mid-sentence. He asked follow-up questions before candidates had answered the initial question. In short, he acted more like a participant than a moderator. It was amateurish and totally unprofessional.
It wasn’t a debate; it was the Dennis Woltering Show, and I fail to understand how this serves the best interests of the voters of Louisiana.
While Mr. Woltering attempted to hold the candidates to a completely unreasonable 30 second time limit (which didn’t apply to all rounds), he interjected his questions during their responses and then cut them off when time had apparently expired. I understand the 30 second rule was a condition agreed to by both campaigns, but the moderator inanely and continually cut into those responses.
But, to be fair, it wasn’t just Mr. Woltering. Other news anchors, perhaps following his lead, also felt it appropriate to interrupt and interject, and strangely, some of them even offered “toss-up” or “jump ball” questions, which led to both candidates answering the question at the same time, completely drowning out one another.
Frankly, although both candidates did their best, I felt the debate’s format and moderation to be disrespectful and un-befitting of the Office of the United States Senate.
It was embarrassing. Dennis Woltering should not be allowed to moderate any more debates.
That said, Senator Landrieu was, as usual, solid, consistent, and coherent, whereas Mr. Kennedy, in my humble opinion, frequently seemed to be living in an alternate universe on a number of issues (the farm relief bill, Iran, and “surrender summits”) and expressed such a disdain for the United States Congress that one has to wonder why he’s even running.