By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asian Weekly
People can’t stop talking about the news anchor who moderated the vice presidential debate on Oct. 4.
Elaine Quijano, 42, is the first Filipino and Asian American to moderate a national debate in a general election campaign, and the youngest since Judy Woodruff in 1988.
Quijano is a correspondent for CBS News and the anchor for CBSN, CBS News’ relatively new streaming service.
Twitter users mostly praised her during the debate, for being poised, asking great questions, and for the most part, keeping the debate on track.
One Twitter user said Quijano was “100 times better than the last moderator,” referring to NBC anchor Lester Holt moderating the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
In that debate, observers pointed out that Trump was “manterrupting” Clinton. On Oct. 4, free of the male-female dynamic, Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine held no punches and interrupted each other at every exchange. The over-talking exasperated Quijano. “Gentlemen, the people at home cannot understand you when you speak over each other!” she asserted firmly, yet respectfully.
Quijano’s attempts to assert control were not always successful, drawing criticism from some media colleagues.
Others in the media praised Quijano for trying, under difficult circumstances, to keep the conversation moving and sticking to her script.
Yet others said Quijano crammed too many topics and questions, jumped around too much, didn’t give candidates more time to respond, and didn’t provide any room to breathe.
This divide highlights the seemingly impossible task of pleasing everyone as a debate moderator. Unlike other moderators, Quijano has never moderated a debate before.
She does have a long and impressive résumé as a TV journalist. Quijano started her career in Champaign, Ill., in 1994 as an intern. She worked for CNN as the network’s White House correspondent, then switched over to CBS in 2009. Over the course of her career, Quijano covered the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings, Superstorm Sandy, and the World Cup in Brazil.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.