A solid line-up. It’s Joe and Mika in debate one, Megyn Kelly in debate two, and then Jorge Ramos brings it on home in the final debate on October 19th.

In all seriousness, though:


It’s not clear why the townhall debate requires two moderators. In 2012, Candy Crowley handled that format solo. (That was the debate where Crowley dubiously “fact-checked” Romney on whether Obama had ever called Benghazi a terrorist attack.) Maybe the moderators decided that Raddatz would be problematic as a solo moderator: After all, she took heat four years ago as the moderator of the VP debate when it came out that Obama had attended her wedding in 1991. Pairing her with Cooper is a hedge against “Raddatz rigged the debate for Hillary!” accusations afterward. Of course they could have dropped Raddatz entirely and let Cooper handle that debate himself, but the commission seems to have had its eye on diversity here in terms of gender, race, and networks. All five major TV news outlets are represented; if they had dumped Raddatz, they’d be scrambling for another woman from ABC. Raddatz’s gain is Diane Sawyer’s loss.

As for her co-moderator, I would have preferred Jake Tapper but Cooper did top a recent poll of anchors whom Americans would like to see as moderator. The commission’s just giving the people what they want.

Kelly is the biggest news name missing here, but it’s for obvious reasons. Here’s a fun tidbit from Gabriel Sherman’s very sordid (seriously, spend 10 minutes on it) behind-the-scenes account of the end of Roger Ailes’s reign at Fox News:

A few days before the first GOP debate on Fox in August 2015, Murdoch called Ailes at home. “This has gone on long enough,” Murdoch said, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Murdoch told Ailes he wanted Fox’s debate moderators — Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace — to hammer Trump on a variety of issues. Ailes, understanding the GOP electorate better than most at that point, likely thought it was a bad idea. “Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee,” Ailes told a colleague around this time. But he didn’t fight Murdoch on the debate directive…

After the debate, Trump called Ailes and screamed about Kelly. “How could you do this?” he said, according to a person briefed on the call. Ailes was caught between his friend Trump, his boss Murdoch, and his star Kelly. “Roger lost control of Megyn and Trump,” a Fox anchor said.

The parties only became more entrenched when Trump launched a series of attacks against Kelly, including suggesting that her menstrual cycle had influenced her debate question. Problematically for Ailes, Fox’s audience took Trump’s side in the fight; Kelly received death threats from viewers, according to a person close to her. Kelly had even begun to speculate, according to one Fox source, that Trump might have been responsible for her getting violently ill before the debate last summer. Could he have paid someone to slip something into her coffee that morning in Cleveland? she wondered to colleagues.

She was probably joking. Probably.