Jim Lehrer, the third man on stage at Wednesday's presidential debate, quickly earned his own moment in the Twitter spotlight as viewers interpreted his attitude as one of growing exasperation.
The PBS "NewsHour" host, who has moderated many presidential debates in the past, appeared visibly frustrated while attempting to direct the debate. He sought to interrupt the two candidates several times only to be shut down, often by Mitt Romney rushing to respond to President Obama.
At one point, Obama responded to Lehrer attempting to curb his two-minute response by saying, "I had five seconds before you interrupted me."
As Romney jumped to counter Obama, Obama repeatedly looked to Lehrer as though waiting for him to cut his GOP challenger off, once even asking if he was going to change the subject. Ultimately, according to CNN's count, Obama talked more than four minutes longer than Romney during the debate.
But according to Twitter, the moderator was the clear loser.
Jim Lehrer and "Poor Jim" were both trending topics on Twitter an hour into the debate. An anonymous Twitter account was quickly created in honor of "silent Jim Lehrer" and jumped past 3,000 followers.
"I sometimes wondered if we even needed a moderator, because we had Mitt Romney," Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, told CNN after the debate. She slammed Romney for interrupting the moderator, but the Romney campaign sent out an email shortly after the debate that pointed to a news article calling the president "snippy" toward Lehrer.
Conservative pundits tweeted that Romney was taking control of the debate, leaving Lehrer and Obama struggling to catch up. Progressive pundits interpreted Lehrer's management differently, with Obama supporter Bill Maher later blaming him in part for his interpretation that Obama lost the debate.
Others tweeted that Lehrer's predicament was easily the evening's most satire-worthy event. And even actor Rob Lowe, a self-proclaimed political junkie, weighed in on the topic, as did documentary filmmaker and outspoken Democrat Michael Moore, who was not pleased with Obama's performance or Lehrer.
Obama keeps looking at Jim Lehrer "please save me, please save me" #PresidentialDebate2012— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 4, 2012
Who woulda thunk Obama would suggest Lehrer move on to another topic after Mitt pounds home tax reform.— Karl Rove (@KarlRove) October 4, 2012
This entire debate is being framed by Lehrer as a referendum on the President rather than comparing the two on policy.— Krystal Ball (@KrystalBall1) October 4, 2012
SNL writers thanking GOD everyone is being so mean to poor Jim Lehrer!— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) October 4, 2012
"Poor Jim" is trending worldwide. So at least Jim Lehrer has that going for him. #debate2012— Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) October 4, 2012
Worst moderator ever.— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) October 4, 2012
Crazy zealot Rachel Maddow calls debate a tie, blames the moderator. I.e. Romney killed.— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 4, 2012
my rating: Romney won the debate, Obama had the facts on his side, and Lehrer sucked. Next debate, get @sethmacfarlane to host!— Bill Maher (@billmaher) October 4, 2012
Eastwood's chair would do a better job moderating this debate. Romney is both candidate and moderator. Has Clinton arrived yet???!— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) October 4, 2012
Updated at 11:25 p.m.