Debate commission slam dunks with picks of moderators
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The Commission on Presidential Debates did one very important thing: Got it right — and, in the process, checked off every box to keep the usual suspects from howling over a group or gender not being represented.

That's an important thing to do in today's hyper-sensitive PC culture.


For starters, NBC's Lester Holt was the biggest no-brainer going in the field. He's seen as objective, isn't polarizing and is actually trusted by most on both sides of the aisle.

The first debate may be watched by as many as 100 million people. Rest assured that Holt will not disappoint; he'll ask solid, substantive, tough questions. 

The second debate — a town hall affair — also features quality choices. ABC's Martha Raddatz has experience on the presidential debate level, while CNN's Anderson Cooper has hosted more presidential town halls than anyone on the planet, via his experience in the primaries.

Fox's Chris Wallace was the best selection the commission could have made for the third and final debate. Those who automatically believe that, since Wallace is a Fox product, he skews right have never watched him on "Fox News Sunday." Democrats and Republicans alike will say he's tough on both sides and doesn't pander to anyone. He's one of the few real journalists left out there.

Like an NCAA Tournament selection special, often the story is about who didn't make the cut. In this case, the notable name is Fox's Megyn Kelly, who finished second in a recent Morning Consult poll asking who should be chosen for a moderator spot. Cooper finished first.

So why not Kelly? For the same reason one respected insider told me a few weeks ago for a story on this very process and subject.

"I think she's a solid moderator based on what we saw in the primaries. She's tough, measured and prepared. But there's just too much history with [GOP nominee Donald] Trump,” one prominent media writer told The Hill. “She'll end up being the story if he publicly objects to her being chosen, which he almost undoubtedly would. It may even lead to him boycotting the debate, and that's the last thing anybody wants.”

Precisely. Nobody doubts Kelly's qualifications, but the distraction of a rematch with Trump in a debate format would have been enormous to the point of becoming more the story than the debate itself. That said, Kelly would have been a great choice for the vice presidential debate — away from Trump — but with Wallace landing the third presidential debate, the commission couldn't award two Fox hosts with only four total slots available.

CBS's John Dickerson could have very easily been chosen, as well. Nobody on the network side was as polished and prepared as the veteran Dickerson, but the commission chose the very capable Elaine Quijano — who does fine work for CBSN — instead for the VP debate.

The same argument could have been made for CNN's nonpartisan and pragmatic Jake Tapper — as synonymous with D.C. politics as they come — but the nod went to Cooper, who was also exceptional in primary debates and particularly with the town hall format.

In the end, the commission picked a black man, a Filipino-American, a gay man and a white woman. But while that checks off the boxes for the PC crowd, it shouldn't be viewed through that prism.

Holt, Raddatz, Cooper, Wallace and Quijano all were awarded their spots because they earned the right to be there. And even Trump likely won't have a problem with any of the selections, nor will the risk averse — especially when it comes to media — Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to visit Georgia next week Former NY Rep. Claudia Tenney to face Anthony Brindisi in House rematch Powell takes on Trump over Confederate flag MORE.

The Commission gets an A+.

Let's hope that's the grade when it's all said and done on Oct. 19 as well.